Men finish in 19th at NCAA meet

The women’s team came in 18th in its 11th straight trip to the NCAA meet.

Team captain and junior Haley Johnson competes in the women's cross country intrasquad meet at the Les Bolstad Golf Course on Sept. 4, 2015.

Joe Sulik, Daily File Photo

Team captain and junior Haley Johnson competes in the women’s cross country intrasquad meet at the Les Bolstad Golf Course on Sept. 4, 2015.

Thomas Jaakola

No. 16 Minnesota raced its way to a 19th-place finish at the 2015 NCAA Championships on Saturday morning. Sophomore Obsa Ali and redshirt senior Adam Zutz led the team in its first time back in the national race since 2011.
 
Syracuse won the title with 82 points, while the Gophers scored 464 points to take 19th out of 31 teams.
 
“We are pleased with our team performance; it was right around where we were hoping for,” Zutz said. “Everyone ran tough, and that is something we are proud of. … It was a bittersweet race for me, as it was my final race, but I’m glad I got to compete in the national race with my teammates.”
 
All of the team’s runners, with the exception of redshirt senior Aaron Bartnik, made their NCAA Championships debuts. Ali crossed the line in 30:53.5 and led the Gophers by finishing 91st. 
 
Zutz finished next for the team in 94th, running his 10-kilometer race in 30:54.4. Redshirt sophomore Charlie Lawrence took 103rd with a time of 30:59.9. Bartnik crossed the line in 31:17.5 in 135th and redshirt senior Christian Skaret closed out the scoring for the Gophers by finishing in 163rd with a time of 31:32.3.
 
“I think it was a group effort. The pack of Obsa, Zutz, Lawrence and 
 
Bartnik were together for a good part of the race, working together,” head coach Steve Plasencia said. “It’s unusual to get all the guys to run well on the same day. It’s hard to do.”
 
Redshirt sophomores Eric Colvin and Matt Welch closed out the race for the team by finishing in 227th and 243rd for the team. They ran their races in 32:31.1 and 33:09.2 respectively.
 
“I’m very proud of these guys, and they’ve been a good team for us,” Plasencia said. “It was a good way to end the year.”
 
Women finish top 20
 
The women’s team finished in 18th place Saturday morning in their 11th straight NCAA Championships appearance. It was the team’s highest finish since placing 10th in 2009. 
 
New Mexico won the title with 49 points in the 31-team meet, while Minnesota had 471 points.
 
Redshirt senior Liz Berkholtz led the team by taking 44th in a time of 20:29.1, just missing out on All-American honors. Her finish was the best by a Minnesota runner since Stephanie Price took 31st in 2010.
 
Redshirt junior Haley Johnson finished next for the team in 72nd place in 20:40.1 after coming in 219th at the meet a year ago.
 
Redshirt sophomore Madeline Strandemo, in her NCAA Championships debut, finished in 147th place in 21:11.15. Redshirt senior Kaila Urick took 153rd in 21:13.6 and
redshirt junior Jamie Piepenburg, also making her NCAA Championships debut, finished the scoring for the team in 200th with a time of 21:37.9.
 
“I’m super thrilled with the team performance. We did better than our ranking and had the best team performance of all my years on the team,” Berkholtz said. “Obviously I’m
bummed that I was so close to being an All-American, but I know I gave it my all.”