Men’s CC team flops in meet against elite

Ryan Schuster

After dominating its first two meets in impressive fashion, the men’s cross country team struggled Saturday. Minnesota took 15th place at the 19-team Roy Griak Invitational held at the University’s Les Bolstad Golf Course in St. Paul.
Second-ranked Northern Arizona, No. 4 Wisconsin and No. 9 Providence swept the first three places in the Invitational. The Badgers rallied late to capture their third consecutive championship at the annual meet.
Minnesota’s total of 343 points was more than four times Wisconsin’s 79-point talley. Like in golf, the lowest score wins.
Freshman Jeremy Polson paced the Gophers, coming in 44th overall in the 8,000-meter race with a time of 25 minutes, 27 seconds. Polson cut almost a minute off of his time at the team’s last meet.
“Polson actually fell down and hit a tree early in the race,” men’s cross country coach Steve Plasencia said. “But, he got up and excelled in the race. For his first race at this caliber he did a great job.”
Only four seconds separated Minnesota’s number two and three finishers, junior Tony Riter and sophomore Todd Landgraff. Riter finished in 62nd in 25:44 and Landgraff took 66th.
Another freshman, Chris Anderson, was 83rd for the Gophers, narrowly edging out senior captain Rick Obleman by three seconds.
“I felt good at the start, but as the race went on it just wasn’t there,” said Obleman after the race. “I’ve looked forward to this race since the beginning of the season. I just choked.”
Obleman, the Gophers’ top finisher in their first two meets lost only 19 seconds off his second-place time at the Minnesota-Duluth Invite on Sept. 14. He took 88th on Saturday with a time of 26:12.
Junior Al Broderius was 110th, and sophomore runner Ron Hoffner finished in 117th-place to round out Minnesota’s scoring.
Even though Obleman had a tough race, the other six Gophers harriers all improved their times from two weeks ago.
“It’s obviously a tough race, and we had some guys run real well,” Plasencia said. “Our next competition isn’t until October 19th at Iowa State, and we hope to make some improvements by then.”