As the women’s cross country team hosts Jack’s Run this weekend at Les Bolstad Golf Course, head coach Gary Wilson said he knows eight of the nine runners he will run in the Big Ten meet Oct. 30 in Champaign, Ill.
He said he hoped he didn’t have to see a run-off in the final meet before the Big Ten Championships, but that’s exactly what the team will do.
Danielle LeBreck, Rachel Drake, Annie Talajkowski, Andrea Rediger and Claire Rindo are notable names competing for the final roster spot.
“If I had a front runner I would just pick that person and go,” Wilson said.
Unfortunately for Wilson, he does not.
“We really pounded [the idea] into them all year. We said, ‘Do not take one or two races lightly because it could cost you.’
“Nobody took any of these races up to this point lightly, but every kid had one or two races that was a little bit off.”
Though it is considered a run-off, the person who wins the Jack’s Run won’t necessarily be the one who earns the final roster spot.
“We look at the whole season still,” Wilson said. “If there is a decisive winner then [we will know right away], but if there’s not a decisive winner that’s not decisive.”
While tension involving the competition for the final spot may be ubiquitous throughout the course this weekend, there is a deeper meaning to the meet itself.
The Jack’s Run is named in honor of longtime team equipment manager Jack Johnson, who died of liver cancer in February 2006.
“Jack was a very close friend of mine,” Wilson said. “He was just a guy that loved this team and loved the kids and so this is just, No. 1, a way to honor him; and then No. 2, to raise some money to help his endowment.”
Before his death, Johnson donated $25,000 to an endowment fund.
Its value has continued to grow.
“We’ve added to it every year,” Wilson said. “I think it’s up to almost $40,000 right now.”
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