With the season winding down and the NCAA Midwest Regional on Friday, Charlie Lawrence will prepare for the final leg of his cross country career. Born and raised in Foley, Minnesota, he’s come a long way from the times when his mother, Mona Bommersbach, would coach him at Foley High School.
“It was certainly unique,” Lawrence said. “It was nice having that person right at home whenever you had questions. It was very professional. I had quite a bit of success under her because of that... It was awesome and I think it gave me an edge up through high school and up until I got [to Minnesota].”
At Foley, he became a two-time conference and section champion in his junior and senior seasons. When the state cross country meet came around, Lawrence finished in third place his junior year, and second place his senior year to end his high school career.
With his Foley High School days in the rearview, Lawrence made his way down to Minneapolis to join the Gophers, with a little apprehension on his mind.
“Coming in, I wasn’t really sure what to expect,” Lawrence said. “I came from a pretty small school.”
After redshirting and running unattached for the 2013 season, Lawrence showed off the potential he had the following year. In his redshirt freshman season, he competed in five races, scoring points for two and helping the team win the UC Riverside Invitational to open the season. Compared to his 111th finish at the Griak Invitational just a year earlier, Lawrence moved up the standings and earned a 46th-place finish this time around.
In his sophomore and junior seasons, Lawrence factored into the team scoring in every race while being named a NCAA All-Region honoree both years. He finished 19th at the NCAA Midwest Regional. In his junior season, with another year of experience, Lawrence improved his times and placements to earn second team All-Big Ten, leading the team at the Big Ten Championships.This year, Lawrence has played his part of being a leader for a team that at one point overcame the odds to be ranked 18th in the country earlier in the season.
“He’s done a good job as a fifth year senior and as a great leader,” said head coach Steve Plasencia. “[He and senior Obsa Ali] are stabilizing influences to have along with your team.”
From a small town runner to a two-time captain and NCAA All-Region honoree, Lawrence credits the Gophers to taking him to that next level.
“[Minnesota] has a very developed program, and as you go up the program you’re going to see your miles increase,” Lawrence said. “I’ve been fortunate that it’s worked out in my favor in terms of development and getting better, and just competing in the Big Ten. It’s been fun.”
Though his cross country days with the Gophers are nearly over, Lawrence has a bright future ahead of himself. He graduated last spring with degrees in sports management and business marketing.
“I started grad school this fall for sports management,” Lawrence said. “I still wanted to take that fifth year because I had the opportunity to, and also advance in my academics.”