Golden Gopher women's cross country coach Gary Wilson is looking for a nice piece of land. But, he's not thinking about a place to build a retirement home after his coaching days at the U of M are over.
Wilson wants to build a dedicated cross country course for the Golden Gophers, a venue he pictures would be "a home of their own" for all of the state's harriers -- from preps to post-collegians.
Last week, Wilson blasted a e-mail to alumni and friends of his program asking for help finding land for such a course. Wilson hankers for a parcel that would: be within 25 miles of the University, include an area at last 800 meters by 800 meters square, be free of pavement, offer parking nearby or within shuttle distance of the course, and be donated or leased land costing the University very little.
Wilson notes that nearby Iowa, Iowa State, and Wisconsin all have dedicated courses. When Wilson's #8-ranked Gophers compete in the Pre-NCAA meet in Terre Haute, Indiana this weekend, they will race on a cross country-only course as well.
"What I would like is to find a section of someone's farm that could be donated and the we could work on as we please," Wilson told DtB. "Iowa and Wisconsin both have their own course and both of these were donated land."
"With the Griak being one of the best, if not the best cross country race in the nation, it would be awesome for us to host on our own dedicated cross country course," Wilson added. "A course that we could build into a national showcase course."
Wilson's hunt for land isn't driven by problems with the Gophers' current home course, the Les Bolstad Gold Course.
"There are no real drawbacks to Bolstad," Wilson admitted. The golf course people have been awesome to us. We have a wonderful relationship with them and we hope it continues. The only reason I want to look into our own course is that fact that so many Upper Midwest teams have their own."
Having a dedicated course, Wilson noted, would allow for a permanent finish area, a press box, and on-site storage.
"I simply feel that it would be wonderful for us to have our own cross country course that not only could we use but could be used by other colleges and high school teams," Wilson continued. "Sort of a premier state course!"
Wilson noted that the University-owned UMore Park near Rosemount is "a possibility" as the site of a course as well.
Wilson says last week's e-mail has already offered some leads.
"There seems to be a lot of interest in the idea."
Pre-Nationals ... Wilson's Gopher women and Steve Plasencia's #30-ranked Gopher men will both compete at the Pre-National Invitational hosted by Indiana State on Saturday.
The Gopher sports media folks have released THIS preview for the women and THIS one for the men.
Race assignments for the contest can be fond HERE.
The latest NCAA Division I rankings are HERE (women) and HERE (men).