PHS grad helps Gophers earn national berth

HALEY JOHNSON HALEY JOHNSON LAWRENCE, Kan. – Haley Johnson, a 2012 Plymouth High School graduate, helped the University of Minnesota women’s cross country team earn a berth in the NCAA national championship meet after the Gophers competed in the Midwest Regional here Friday.

The Gophers, who received an at-large bid to the national championship meet, finished third in the Midwest Regional. Liz Berkholtz of Sun Prairie and Johnson led Minnesota with all-region honors as Berkholtz placed 11th and Johnson, 13th, in the regional.

Johnson, a former standout in cross country and track at PHS, earned the first all-region award in her career with a personal-best time of 20 minutes, 38.3 seconds in the 6,000-meter race at the regional competition.

The Gophers will compete in the national championship meet for an impressive 11th straight year. The meet will be held Saturday at the Tom Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Ky.

Johnson, a redshirt junior, posted her previous career-best in the 2015 Big Ten Championships Nov. 1 in Chicago, Ill., when she placed 19th.

The two-time Academic All- Big Ten honoree led the Gophers for the fourth time in her career with a 13th-place finish at the Roy Griak Invitational home meet on Sept. 26. The 13th place is the highest by a Gopher in that meet since 2013.

She has appeared in five races this season. Johnson, who is majoring food science, made her NCAA debut at the 2014 Midwest Regional – placing 70th as the fifth Gopher, with a 21:28.6 effort. The top-five runners for each school score team points in a meet.

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