The Gophers men’s cross country team stood victorious on Friday, sweeping the top five spots at the Fall Finale.
Redshirt junior Matt Jergenson led the pack, followed by redshirt freshman Matt Welch.
Jergenson said the team’s success was largely due to its focus and preparation for the meet.
“We were able to come into the race focused, and we were able to run as a team well,” Jergenson said.
For some runners, it was their last cross country race in a Gophers uniform, and head coach Steve Plasencia said the team took that into account at the meet.
“Our guys have always liked that event, and a lot of them knew it was their last race of the season, so I think they were ready to run,” Plasencia said.
Jergenson also said the Gophers built chemistry while training, which helped them succeed at the meet.
“We do workouts as a team, so we’re used to running as a pack and keying off of each other,” Jergenson said.
Though the meet consisted of teams from Division III schools, Plasencia said it was still competitive.
“It’s not Big Ten-meet level, but there were some good runners in there,” Plasencia said.
The Gophers’ top runners rested in anticipation of next weekend’s NCAA Midwest regional.
Even though the cross country season is done for Fall Finale runners, Welch said the team is going to start preparing for the indoor track season.
“We’re going to take a couple weeks off of running, and then it’s just going to be a long, slow build up,” Welch said.
Women succeed in Rocky’s Run
It was a cold and windy morning for the athletes on the Gophers women’s team as they ran at the Rocky’s Run on Saturday.
Redshirt junior Rebecca Rethwisch said she was pleased with the team’s performance at the meet.
“I thought it was a good way to end the season for a lot of us. I was impressed by how well people stayed engaged … since there wasn’t as much hype around this meet,” Rethwisch said.
The meet was a community event held at the Les Bolstad Golf Course, and Rethwisch said it was a unique way to end the season.
“It’s really strange,” she said. “It doesn’t hit you. In high school we finished our season in-state, and in college a lot of people will finish at regionals or nationals, so it’s kind of a strange way to end the season.”
Like the men, this was the last meet for some women’s runners, including redshirt junior Stacey Swatek.
Swatek led the Gophers at the meet, placing sixth among women. She said her experience racing at Minnesota has been a great one.
“It’s definitely hard. … It’s more just being happy with the opportunities and the friends that I [have] made and the places I’ve been able to travel,” Swatek said. “It’s a really great experience.”
Rethwisch said the senior-age runners knew during the race that it was their last, so they wanted to leave it all on the course.
“I think it was really good to have the seniors together,” Rethwisch said. “When we were racing, we were kind of saying to each other, ‘This is it.’ That was really great to have each other for that.”