Minnesota's women's cross country team has always focused on building a culture based on developing every member of the team to become the best runner they can be.
Redshirt sophomore Jaycie Thomsen is one of the team's runners who most represents this philosophy. Thomsen was a Division I caliber runner, but not a top recruit in high school. However, she has worked her way up to become one of the Gophers' most important runners.
"She’s just a worker," head coach Sarah Hopkins said of Thomsen. "She’s a blue-collar worker that’s willing to do a lot of stuff a lot of other people aren’t willing to do to get better."
In 2018, Thomsen suffered an injury that prohibited her from training the summer before her first season competing with the team. After being able to train this past offseason, she is now starting to reap the rewards of her strong work ethic.
Earlier this season, Thomsen was the Gophers' third-best runner at the Roy Griak Invitational and clocked a personal-best 5K time last weekend at the Joe Piane Notre Dame Invitational.
At the beginning of her time at Minnesota, Thomsen said it was challenging to balance cross country with her education and personal life. Now, Thomsen has been named a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar and earned Academic All-Big Ten honors along with building strong relationships with her teammates and others outside of cross country.
According to Hopkins, Thomsen thrives from training and is very driven to improve.
"Usually I’m the kind of person where if I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it 110 percent," Thomsen said. "I’ve kind of thrown myself into running. I just love it so much. I love to train, and I love the process."
Thomsen, who said she always try to work hard for not only herself but her teammates, has found cross country is much more of team sport than people realize.
"The team culture is awesome," Thomsen said. "Because we’re not one of the biggest recruiting schools, we get a lot of girls who come here ready to develop and work really hard. I think that just makes for a really good team atmosphere and a really good team culture."
Thomsen and the rest of the Gophers are excited how the first part of the season has gone, the team's latest performance vaulted them in the national rankings. They are now ranked 18th in the country. But for the remainder of the season, Thomsen is focused on doing her part in helping achieve the team's goals.
"She’s very driven and has a very specific kind of focus, and I think that’s just a super great quality," Hopkins said. "She is really starting to believe in herself and know what she’s capable of and scratching the surface of that."