The Gophers went into the NCAA championships with hopes of a top-15 finish. They missed that Saturday with a 20th-place team finish in the final race of the season.
Minnesota placed five runners in the top 135, which head coach Sarah Hopkins said was “really, really, really solid.”
“If you had told me that [before the race], I would have expected that to result in a top-15 finish,” Hopkins said.
Providence won the team title, tallying 141 points. The Gophers finished in 20th place with 406 team points, which was just 84 points from 11th place.
“[There were] just a ton of teams right in that 10 to 20 [place] range, and we ended up, unfortunately, on the lower side of that range,” Hopkins said.
Minnesota placed three runners in the top-150 last year and finished 22nd overall. This year’s performance was a step up from that.
“I think everybody is relatively pleased with how we performed on a one-person-to-one-person basis,” Hopkins said.
Senior Maggie Bollig said she thought it was a big improvement from last year’s NCAA race, especially for the team’s top five.
Senior Laura Docherty led the Gophers individually, finishing in 61st place. Bollig, senior Kelli Budd, junior Molly Kayfes and senior Katie Moraczewski rounded out the team’s top five, respectively.
Hopkins said the fifth-year senior group stepped up Saturday and ran very well.
Hopkins told her runners before the race to run the race they would be most proud of.
Bollig said she thought everyone accomplished that at the NCAA championships.
The runners battled through tough conditions in the race.
Hopkins said the course had three inches of standing water in some places. Bollig said she felt like she was running through quicksand at times.
Still, she said everyone in the field started fast, and she said the Gophers went out a little harder than usual.
That’s a fine line to toe at the NCAA race, Bollig said, because runners need to start fast but still save enough energy for the rest of the race.
At the 2K mark, Hopkins said the Gophers were in 12th place as a team. She said her team went out a little aggressively at the start of the race.
“We did the best we could on this day considering the conditions,” Bollig said. “I don’t think honestly there was really anything we could have majorly changed.”
While the cross country season may be over, the runners still have the indoor and outdoor track seasons to look forward to.
“Since the race didn’t go exactly how I was hoping, it kind of gets me fired up for the track season and ready to do some big things during track,” Bollig said.