The Gophers didn’t finish quite where they wanted to at Saturday’s 28th Annual Roy Griak Invitational, but head coach Sarah Hopkins said she thought her team still ran well. “I think we can run better, but overall I was pretty pleased,” she said. “I wish we beat a few more teams, but that’s any race you wish that.” The No. 19 Gophers placed fourth out of 28 teams in the Griak, and five runners finished in the top 31.
Gophers cross country head coach Sarah Hopkins likened planning the 28th Annual Roy Griak Invitational to planning her wedding. She had a major hand in the Griak — one of the major meets of the regular season — which will take place Saturday at Les Bolstad Golf Course. “You have to remind yourself that [the planning] is over and you just have to let it go and have fun and appreciate what is going on when it’s going on,” Hopkins said. From a runner’s standpoint at the Griak, it’s a little easier to soak in the atmosphere.
Minnesota women’s hockey head coach Brad Frost said time and time again last season his team was going to eventually lose a game. It didn’t. The Gophers went 41-0-0 last season en route to their second straight national championship. Still, Frost knows perfect seasons don’t come around often, and odds are this team will lose a game this season.
Slow and steady doesn’t always win the race. For the 800-meter track runners on the Gophers cross country team, that strategy won’t get them too far. The group uses cross country to prepare for its track and field season and often participates in altered workouts to target its specific skill set.
Gophers head coach Chuck Merzbacher said Sunday his team is “light years” ahead of where it was at this time last year. His squad kicked off its fall season this weekend with the Gopher Invitational and had the tournament’s top singles finisher in both the first and second divisions. “We really got a lot done this weekend as far as competing,” Merzbacher said, “and our fitness level is pretty strong.”
A common saying among athletes is “take it one day at a time.” And while the Gophers women’s cross country squad is sticking with that adage and focusing on short-term success, it’s also taking steps to secure its future. The current senior class has 12 runners — including many of the team’s top finishers — and there are only six juniors on the roster. That has left the deep redshirt sophomore class aware of the need to step into a leadership role moving forward.
John Simons had a successful freshman year running at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, but he wasn’t where he wanted to be. Now entering his senior season, Simons is finding success at his dream school as one of the Gophers’ top runners. “Minnesota was the place that I always wanted to be, even in high school,” he said. “I was getting better but wasn’t making jumps as quickly as other athletes that were signed right away.”
The Gophers women’s hockey team announced Monday that senior Bethany Brausen will reprise her role as team captain this season. Seniors Sarah Davis, Baylee Gillanders and Kelly Terry will sport the “A” as alternates for the Gophers. “It just felt like, with Brausen’s experience last year having the ‘C’, it made sense to keep her as our captain and kind of [have] those other three really support her in that role,” head coach Brad Frost told the Minnesota Daily on Monday.
The Gophers’ team goal at the Oz Memorial was to have 22 of the top 25 finishers. Mission accomplished. Senior Laura Docherty crossed the line first with a time of 21:48.00 in the 6-kilometer meet, and 15 of her teammates followed before another school had a finisher. It was Docherty’s second consecutive first-place finish at the Oz Memorial. Junior Molly Kayfes, senior Maggie Bollig, sophomore Becca Dyson, sophomore Liz Berkholtz, senior Katie Moraczewski and senior Kelli Budd rounded out the top seven for the Gophers.
Maggie Bollig is starting this season right where she left off. Bollig started last season with an eighth-place finish at the Oz Memorial. Steadily improving throughout the year and at NCAA Championships, she emerged as the third finisher on the team and 128th in the country. Gophers women’s cross country head coach Sarah Hopkins said in years past, Bollig has been “kind of content with [the attitude], ‘I’m going to come in and just get better as I go.’”