The University of Minnesota cross country program competed at the 2018 Big Ten Cross Country Championships meet on Sunday morning in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Beforehand, women’s team head coach Sarah Hopkins previewed her expectations for the meet.
“I think on any given day there are six teams that all have a shot. I’ve told the team all year we could be a really really good sixth place team, which doesn’t sound good to most people, and [still] be a top-15 team in the country. Or, we could win the thing,” said Hopkins.
Coming off of a second place team finish last year at the Big Ten Cross Country Championship, the women’s team took sixth place overall on Sunday morning. For fifth-year senior Patty O’Brien, Sunday marked the final Big Ten cross country championship race of her career. However, before the race, O’Brien was not particularly nostalgic.
“I’m just excited for it to be my last Big Ten’s race. I want to go out there, have fun, and just see what I can do; to lay it all out there on the line,” said O’Brien. “It’s not something that should add pressure because it’s the last one, I know a lot of people go into last ones thinking this is my last chance, but I think it’s one more chance to go out there and have some fun.”
Holding true to this, O’Brien finished the race third among the Gophers, and in 48th place overall, with a time of 21:31.5. Two of O’Brien’s teammates entered the meet with a chance to win it all, and they did not disappoint. Bethany and Megan Hasz finished in fifth and 12th place respectively, in times of 20:14.1 and 20:30.5.
“I’m pretty happy with it. It’s better than I did last year, I ran a PR so nothing to complain about,” said Bethany Hasz after the race. “Everyone battled, I know Megan wasn’t super thrilled with it but she still ran a good time and it was a good place.”
Before the race, Hopkins talked about her team’s likelihood of meeting expectations, a sentiment that she repeated afterwards as well.
“I thought we were solid, it wasn’t anything amazing but I think we kind of shot par today,” Hopkins said. ”We were the sixth team going in and we got sixth, so we kind of did what we were expected to do. Obviously you always hope for a little bit more, but … there’s really nothing I can look at and say we really could’ve done something super different.”
In the men’s race, Alec Basten led his team. He finished in a time of 23:45.1, which was satisfactory for eighth place overall.
The men’s team had already raced on this course earlier in the season when they placed first out of nine teams at the Greeno/Dirksen Invitational. On Sunday, the Gophers took seventh place in the team standings. Behind Basten, Gophers Evan Ferlic (16th) and Jack Manderscheid (31st) also finished in the top 50.
Minnesota’s program will have some time to regroup before advancing to the NCAA Midwest Regionals meet in Peoria, Illinois on Nov. 9. Until then, some athletes will compete on Nov. 2 at Saint John’s University’s Fall Finale meet, and then on Nov. 4 at home in Rocky’s Run.