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Paynesville Press - November 23, 2005

Hess helps Gophers run ninth in NCAA

By Michael Jacobson

Senior Jen Hess helped the Minnesota Gophers women's cross country team finish ninth at the NCAA Division I Championships on Monday, Nov. 21, at Terre Haute, Ind., hosted by Indiana State.

The finish was the best in school history for the Gophers, whose previous best was tenth in 1983.

jen hess The Gophers made their ninth trip to the NCAA Championships and first since 2001.

Senior Jen Hess - shown running at the home Roy Griak Meet in September - helped the Minnesota Gophers women's cross country team finish at the NCAA meet on Monday, Nov. 21.

Hess, a 2002 PAHS graduate, finished fifth for the Gophers and 192nd overall (155th in team scoring). She covered the six-kilometer course in 21:58, her best time of the season. Over 250 runners - including 31 teams - competed in the women's race on Monday.

The Gophers were led at nationals by sophomore Ladia Albertson-Junka, who finished 21st overall to earn All American honors. Junior Emily Brown was 29th for the Gophers, and senior Lauren Williams was 49th. Senior Harper McConnell finished 168th to be the Gophers' fourth runner.

Stanford (146) topped defending champion Colorado (181) for the national title. The Gophers (361) finished ninth, behind fellow Big Ten teams Illinois (fifth, 212) and Michigan (sixth, 250) but ahead of Wisconsin (20th, 469) and Michigan St. (30th, 671).

The Gophers were rated 12th in the nation entering the meet.

Hess, the daughter of Barb and Dave Hess of Paynesville, played a key role in the Gophers securing a national berth. In the NCAA Midwest Region Meet on Saturday, Nov. 12, Hess ran fourth for the Gophers, finishing 40th overall in 22:31, as the Dogs tied with Illinois but took second on a tie-breaker.

Gophers coach Gary Wilson credited Hess with running her best race of the season at the right time at regions. "Jen's performance was the difference for us in capturing that automatic qualifying berth," he said. "She was a tenacious competitor today, running with a purpose. She hung right with Harper, who has always been a consistent fourth finisher for us, and that made the difference."

Hess is majoring in cultural studies and comparative literature.

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