Gophers fourth at meet in Louisville

Redshirt senior Liz Berkholtz was the team’s top finisher, ending up in 14th.

Redshirt senior Liz Berkholtz approaches the finish line of Oz Memorial race at Les Bolstad Golf Course on Friday Sept. 11, 2015.

Maddy Fox, Daily File Photo

Redshirt senior Liz Berkholtz approaches the finish line of Oz Memorial race at Les Bolstad Golf Course on Friday Sept. 11, 2015.

Thomas Jaakola

Running through rain, wind and mud, the No. 23 University of Minnesota women’s cross country team took fourth place out of 30 teams at the Greater Louisville Classic early Saturday morning. 
 
Redshirt senior Liz Berkholtz was the top overall runner for the team, finishing her race in 14th place overall in 17:15.82.
 
“It was another step up from [the Roy Griak Invitational last week] in terms of running a little bit better and a little more rested,” Berkholtz said. “I think I missed the break, and then it was kind of too late for me to go. I wanted to be in the top 10.”
 
Redshirt junior Haley Johnson finished close behind Berkholtz in 17th place in 17:18.78. 
 
Redshirt sophomore Madeline Strandemo crossed the line in 31st place. 
 
Redshirt junior Jamie Piepenburg placed 34th, and redshirt senior Kaila Urick finished 39th to round out the Gophers’ top five.
 
“I thought we had a solid day; I’d give it a ‘B,’ ” head coach Sarah Hopkins said. “We beat some good teams, and we were really close to some teams that I think are very good.”
 
Hopkins said she thought the team’s best performance came from Piepenburg, who was coming off an impressive performance for the Gophers from a week earlier when she finished as the fifth-best runner on the team at the Griak Invitational.
 
Piepenburg said she got boxed in about 800 meters into the race at a sharp turn, but from then on she continuously passed people on her way to the finish line.
 
“I was really happy with the race, but I did start out a little slower then I probably should have, so I was passing a lot of people during the race, which was fun,” Piepenburg said. “But I also needed to be up farther. I was happy, but I definitely learned from it.”
 
Hopkins said she thought the whole team got out a little slow as well, not just Piepenberg.
 
“I think the common consensus was that everyone as they finished was thinking, ‘Ah shoot, I had more left,’ ” Hopkins said.
 
The race served as a learning experience for the younger runners on the team who went out too slow, Hopkins said — something the team needs to work on. 
 
The course the team raced on will be used later in the year for nationals — the meet that the women have set their eyes on since the beginning of the year. 
 
Berkholtz said the fast course is exactly the opposite of what the team has been training on at home on the Les Bolstad Golf Course.
 
“On our cool-down, we ran the course again to really get a feel for it, like where the turns are and which side of the course you need to be on,” Berkholtz said. “That can make
a big difference when everyone else is just as good as you, and if you really know the course, that’s an advantage.”