Women’s runners rest for final stretch

Ryan Schuster

It is said that absence makes the heart grow stronger. The Gophers women’s cross country team is hoping, however that it helps them recover from their various physical ailments.
Coach Gary Wilson gave his squad Monday and Tuesday off of practice so they could attempt to reclaim their early season form.
“I think with this break we are going to be in much better shape than we would have been,” Wilson said. “We just need to back off and relax.”
Minnesota’s top runner, sophomore Anna Gullingsrud, did not compete with the team last weekend at the Auburn Invitational because of a stomach virus.
Gophers junior Andrea Lentz and senior Keri Zweig have both been afflicted with a similar illness.
In addition, several runners suffered slight ankle sprains in the team’s Sunday morning practice, partially prompting the team’s two-day break.
Everyone is expected to recover in time for this weekend’s meet. Junior Andrea Swansby will replace sophomore Gillian Haro in the team’s 12-person lineup Saturday.
“Right now Anna, Zweig and Lentz being sick is kind of a factor,” Kari Thompson said. “I know that Zweig and Lentz didn’t run as well in Alabama. But it may even make us tougher mentally because it forces others to step up and make up the points lost.”
One of those people expected to step up is freshman Minna Haronoja, who is coming off her best 5,000-meter time of the season.
She took first for Minnesota last weekend in Gullingsrud’s absence with a time of 18:11. Before last week Haronoja had placed third once and second twice for the Gophers earlier this fall.
The Gophers need Gullingsrud, Haronoja and the rest of the team to turn it up a notch with only two weeks remaining before the Big Ten Championships.
Minnesota is in action Saturday at the Iowa State Invitational in Ames, Iowa.
“Our main goal this weekend is to get back and have everybody healthy, re-focused and run as well as we can,” Wilson said. “We need to get intense for the final push.”