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Preview: Gophers Head to Penn State for Big Tens

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Cross-country skiing | 10/27/21 8:32:00 AM

MINNEAPOLIS — The championship season officially begins for the University of Minnesota Gophers cross country teams this Friday, Oct. 29, when the Maroon and Gold head to University Park, Pa. going for the 2021 Big Ten Conference Championships. The men’s 5.2 mile run will start the championships at 9:45 a.m. CT, followed by the women’s 6km race, which begins at 10:45 a.m. CT.

“We are excited and ready for Big Tens Friday,” said head coach Sarah Hopkins. “You know it’s going to be a grinder. Every Big Ten team is good, there are no soft teams in the pack, so you know every team is going to try and win. It’s not for the faint of heart, but we’re here We’ve got the group we want to get to, so we just have to go in, do our best and see where it falls.”

BIG TEN SQUAD

Both sides of the program will feature a nine-person squad for the Championship meeting.

The men’s side will consist of Alec Basten, Matt Wilkinson, Jack Manderscheid, Ethan Cannon, Owen Hoeft, Khalid Hussein, Eli Hoeft, Declan Dahlberg and Seth Eliason.

The women are represented by Bethany has, Megan Haso, Abby Kohut-Jackson, Anastasia Korzenowski, Jaycie Thomsen, Emma Atkinson, Tate Sweeney, Carissa Dock and Brianne Brewster.

IN THE RANKING

Both sides of the program found themselves in the most recent USTFCCCA National Coaches’ Poll for the first time this season, with the women jumping at number 6, while the men jumped at number 29 in the poll. Regionally, the women continued to top the Midwest region, while the men placed fourth behind three other nationally ranked programs in No. 2 Iowa State, No. 5 Oklahoma State and No. 9 Tulsa.

Friday’s encounter will also feature a plethora of ranked competition for the Maroon and Gold. Of the seven nationally ranked teams on the women’s side, the Gophers lead the way at number 6, followed by number 9 Michigan, number 20 Michigan State, number 22 Wisconsin, number 25 Illinois, RV Indiana and RV Penn State.

The men’s side is a bit lighter in terms of nationally ranked teams, with No. 29 Minnesota being just one of three schools cracking the polls. No. 10 Wisconsin and No. 15 Michigan make up the rest.

LAST TIME OFF

In Minnesota’s last time out, both sides of the Gophers program made a statement at the Nuttycombe Invitational.

The men’s side, led by 12th place from Alec Basten (23:37.7), finished 15th overall on the invite with 416 team points, topping five nationally ranked programs. Newcomer and Former NCAA DIII Track Athlete of the Year Matt Wilkinson earned the second-scoring spot for the Maroon and Gold at 83rd (24:19.9), followed by Jack Manderscheid in the 103rd, Ethan Cannon in 109th and Owen Hoeft on the 113th.

As the fourth highest-ranked team in attendance, the women finished exactly where they were expected at Nuttycombe, finishing fourth with 188 team points behind a trio of top-15 finishes from Bethany has (sixth), Abby Kohut-Jackson (10th) and Megan Haso (14th). Anastasia Korzenowski (48th) and Jaycie Thomsen (112nd) rounded out the scoring spots for Minnesota.

BIG TEN HISTORY

Minnesota is coming off a 2020-21 season in which the women’s program claimed it is the second individual champion in the program’s history, Bethany has. With the win, Hasz joined Gopher great Eileen Donaghy as the only Gophers to ever secure the individual title at the Big Ten meeting, and her time of 20:13.2 took her to third place on the all-time list. from Minnesota.

The women would finish second in the team standings behind eventual 2020-21 conference champions, Michigan State. The team finish marked Minnesota’s fourth time in the top three since taking back-to-back team titles in 2007-08.

The men took seventh in the 2020-21 conference championships, behind a pair of top-20 finishes by Alec Basten and Jordan MacIntosh. They will enter the competition this season in search of their fifth team title in the history of the program, as well as their 11th individual champion, the last of whom, Hassan Mead, claimed consecutive titles in 2008-09.

BIG TEN ACCOLATES

The Big Ten Cross Country Women’s Athlete of the Year 2020-21, Bethany has, had another impressive season in terms of Big Ten accolades in 2021. Hasz collected her fifth and sixth career Big Ten weekly awards after the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe and Joe Piane Invitationals, and was named the Big Ten Cross Country Women’s Athlete of the Week after posting Big Ten best performances at both events.

She now has six weekly Big Ten awards to her name, three of which have come in the field. The other three have all entered athletics.

NEXT ONE

Following the Big Ten Championships, the Gophers will host their final home event of the season, Rocky’s Run, on the Les Bolstad Golf Course on November 7th. The event will feature a four-mile multi-gender race that follows the same course as Jack’s Twilight Run earlier in the season, and will be open to public registration, and all proceeds will go to a scholarship fund in the name of the meet’s namesake, Rochelle. “Rocky” Races.

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