Another perfect 15 at Oz for women

With junior Megan Duwell setting the pace, the Minnesota womenâÄôs cross country team captured its fourth-straight title at the Oz Memorial Run on Saturday. For the second consecutive year, the Gophers posted a perfect score of 15 with members of the team clinching the top five finishes and eight of the top 10 times of the day. Duwell earned her first individual medal at the collegiate level after crossing the six-kilometer raceâÄôs finish line with a time of 21:57 âÄî 25 seconds ahead of senior Gabriele Anderson in second place. Last weekend, Duwell placed first at MinnesotaâÄôs intrasquad meet âÄî also held at the Les Bolstad Golf Course. âÄúMegan is off to a nice start on the season, as are others with her,âÄù head coach Gary Wilson said in a statement. âÄúWe ran a decent race today, but this team is still very much a work in progress. Of course, that is exactly what you want at this time of the season.âÄù Rounding out the top five for Minnesota was junior Mallory Van Ness in third with a time 22:28. Last yearâÄôs individual medalist, junior Jamie Cheever finished the race in 22:31 for fourth and junior Amy Laskowske crossed the line one second later in fifth. Men take third in Calif. Last week, Minnesota menâÄôs cross country coach Steve Plasencia said he was interested in seeing sophomore Mike Torchia compete this weekend at the Aztec Invitational after the Rochester Lourdes graduate sat out nearly all of last season with a leg injury. Torchia didnâÄôt disappoint, posting a time of 25:19 over the eight-kilometer course and leading the Gophers with a 12th-place finish. As a team, Minnesota combined for a third-place finish with 103 points behind Brigham Young (32 points) and second-place Northern Arizona (96) on what Plasencia described as a âÄúfastâÄù course. Individual medalist Aron Rono of Azusa Pacific was one of two competitors to break the meet record and Plasencia commented that TorchiaâÄôs time âÄúmay have been a top-ten all-time finish,âÄù before this yearâÄôs meet. Plasencia also said he didnâÄôt think running All-Americans Hassan Mead and Chris Rombough would have helped MinnesotaâÄôs case much. âÄúEven with Hassan and Rombough, we wouldnâÄôt have been close,âÄù Plasencia said. Making things even more difficult for the Gophers was an unconventional course, Torchia said. âÄúIt was not your stereotypical cross country race. It was half cross country, half road course,âÄù the sophomore said. âÄúBut everybody had to run the same course this weekend.âÄù Sophomore Mike McFarland placed 19th for the Gophers with a time of 25:35. Sophomore transfer Ben Blakenship ( 25:39) and redshirt freshman Sean Olson (25:40) âÄî both competing for the first time for Minnesota âÄî finished one second apart in 21st and 23rd, respectively. Senior Ben Puhl (25:57) finished in 36th place to round out the Gophers scoring.