2 low-key meets provide different opportunities

The Gophers will run at Eau Claire and South Dakota State this weekend.

Dane Mizutani

 

One week removed from hosting the renowned Roy Griak Invitational, the womenâÄôs cross country team will keep it more low-key this weekend.

The Gophers will send squads to compete in both the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Invitational on Friday and the South Dakota State Invitational on Saturday.

Though both meets serve as a way for athletes to continue their training process, each meet has an individual purpose at this point in the season.

Minnesota will send its top-12 runners, including All-American Steph Price, to South Dakota State, which will give the group an opportunity to compete on a relatively flat course for the first time this season.

It will also give the Gophers a slight taste of what to expect at the Big Ten championship held at the University of Illinois.

The Big Ten championship is a race run on what head coach Gary Wilson called a âÄúvery flat course,âÄù as opposed to MinnesotaâÄôs home track, which is sometimes loathed by visitors for its hills.

Thus, gaining valuable experience on flat courses early in the season is something Wilson said will be pivotal for the team down the road.

âÄúBasically, itâÄôs a solid workout,âÄù Wilson said. âÄúWeâÄôre not trying to go over there and run our all-time [personal bests], but there will be kids working on a little strategy.

âÄúMost of it, though, is to work on our turnover and to get to the point so they are preparing themselves physiologically for the end of the year.âÄù

Those who are not a part of the top-12 running at South Dakota State will compete in Eau Claire.

This is a meet designed to give runners who may not make the scoring roster this season a chance to race in competition.

âÄúItâÄôs to let our kids that are developing have another opportunity to race and be in the hunt for spots maybe not this year, but for the following year,âÄù Wilson said. âÄúIt goes along with our plan.

âÄúWeâÄôre developing kind of a team. We have to develop athletes. We donâÄôt get ready-made All-Americans. If you give kids an opportunity, then they are much more apt to make that step to the next level.âÄù

Wilson added the team will take 14 runners to the Adidas Invitational in two weeks and it will basically be a âÄúhead-to-head competitionâÄù at Eau Claire for those final two spots.

âÄúNow weâÄôre starting to sift out and we are separating the wheat from the chaff to see who really wants it and whoâÄôs going to be a pretender,âÄù Wilson said. âÄúI still think we have 12 or 15 kids who can make the top-seven by the end of the season.âÄù