Johnson wins Jack’s Run, top runners sit

Minnesota rested its top runners to prepare for the Big Ten championships.

Betsy Helfand

Minnesota’s top runners had a night off Saturday in anticipation of next weekend’s Big Ten championships.

Meanwhile, the rest of the team raced at Jack’s Twilight Run.

Though a trip to the Big Ten meet wasn’t on the line for Saturday’s runners, head coach Sarah Hopkins said she was impressed by the way her team performed.

“Everybody did a really good job of sticking their nose in there and competing and racing to get [personal records] … and not just going through the motions,” she said.

To offset any possible monotony, Hopkins held the race in the evening and changed the course layout.

“Nothing says that because we’re running at home that we have to do the same exact course every time,” she said.

The course was flatter and loopier than normal for Jack’s Twilight Run.

“It was fun because you didn’t really know what to expect, and so it kept it fresh and new,” redshirt freshman Haley Johnson said.

Johnson took the top spot for Minnesota.

The race was also open to the public. Johnson said she and sophomore Jamie Piepenburg raced alongside a man after they heard his voice at the 4K mark.

“It was a good aspect to run with guys, and I think it pushed me the last 200 [meters] because I knew he was behind me, so I was like, ‘I can’t let him beat me,” Johnson said.

Hopkins said the race was especially important for the younger runners. She said she talks to the freshman class about the importance of getting a little better each week, and races like this are an opportunity to improve.

At this point, Hopkins said, the younger group has run enough 6K races to know which strategies work.

“Every time they run, they can kind of tweak those a little bit so when we walk into next season, they have a little better idea of what they need to be doing,” Hopkins said.

Johnson said she’s gotten more aggressive as the season has progressed, and she said she thinks the rest of the group has done the same.

The group that ran Saturday’s race will take a break until Rocky’s Run on Nov. 10. The top group heads to West Lafayette, Ind., next weekend to compete for a Big Ten title.