A week ago, the Minnesota men’s cross country team finished first among four teams at the Oz Memorial meet. The team was back in action on Saturday, Sept. 15 at the annual Greeno/Dirksen Invitational in Lincoln, Nebraska.
The race served as an important preview for the Gophers as it was held on Mahoney Golf Course, a site that will host the 2018 Big Ten Championship meet on Oct. 28.
“In my 22 years we’ve never raced in Nebraska, so today was a first.” said head coach Steve Plasencia. “I had heard that it was a flat course, and for the most part it is, but it is rolling.”
Alec Basten grabbed a first-place finish during his first appearance of the season in a time of 24:17.5. Minnesota’s top five runners finished in the top-11 spots overall. Evan Ferlic was fifth in 25:03.2 while Seth Eliason finished seventh in a time of 25:12.6.
“It was at least 78 or 79 degrees at 9:45 a.m., 80 percent humidity. We tried to have our guys ready to run the kind of race that was necessary for today,” Plasencia said. “The guys came through … Evan Ferlic did a real nice job over the last kilometer and half in terms of moving up in the field. And when you have your fifth man [overall] running in 11th place, you’ve got a pretty tight situation.”
The men’s cross-country team won’t compete again until Sep. 29 at the Roy Griak Invitational in St. Paul, Minnesota. However, coach has a purpose for their break from competition.
“I never call them weeks off.” Plasencia said. “We ran half of our group here today and the other half of the group ran at the Oz last week. Next week we’ll get both these groups together and train as a unit to move forward for the Griak invitational meet. Both of these races have been kind of ‘rust-busters’ for our guys. Our seasons are measured not by what happens in September and October, but by what happens in late October and November.”
Meanwhile, the women’s cross-country team travels to Boston on Friday, to take on teams in the Coast-to-Coast Battle in Beantown at Boston College. The team is currently ranked No. 24 in the country, while the men’s team is unranked, according to the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
Saturday also marked the unveiling of the brand new Minnesota Track and Field stadium. The facility was completed this fall, and it will serve as the new home for Minnesota’s program after many years without an outdoor track and field stadium.