Italian Sergio Bonaldi won the men's race and Caitlin Gregg of Minneapolis the women's race in the 40th American Birkebeiner on Saturday, both in dramatic fashion.
Bonaldi emerged from a pack of close to 15 skiers near the end of the 50-kilometer race from Cable to Hayward, Wis., to win in a photo finish. Countryman Fabio Santos, the 2010 champion, was originally declared the winner before the decision was reversed. Both finished in the same time, 2 hours, 9.18 seconds.
Gregg, the 2011 champion and 2012 runner-up, won in an equally close finish. Her time of 2:28.56.9 was four-tenths of a second better than that of Estonian Tatjana Mannima.
For the first time, the women's elite skiers started 20 minutes ahead of the men. Gregg and Bonaldi crossed the finish line within two minutes of each other in the Birkie, billed as the largest Nordic ski race in North America. Skiers from 21 countries and 48 states registered for it.
U men 5th, women 7th indoors
For the second year in a row, the Gophers men's track and field team finished just four points behind the winning team in the Big Ten Indoor Championships.
This time, instead of taking second place, they placed fifth at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio. Harun Abda led the Gophers by finishing second in the 600 (1:15.80), third in the 400 (46.99) and anchoring the 4x400 relay. Teammate Sean King was third in the 60 dash (6.77), and the distance medley relay took third.
Wisconsin won the men's title with 90 points.
The women's team placed seventh with 56 points, well behind first-place Illinois' 115. Laura Docherty and Molly Kayfes led the Gophers by placing second in 16:15.0 and third in 16:15.31, respectively, in the 5,000-meter run. Those were the second- and third-best times at that distance in school history .
In men's tennis, Wisconsin edged the visiting Gophers 4-3. Rok Bonin won 6-2, 6-1 at No. 1 singles for the Gophers (3-6) and Leandro Toledo won 7-6 (7-5), 6-1 at No. 2 singles. Each of them were on a winning doubles team, too, to help win the doubles point.
The Gophers' softball team led 3-0 in the top of the third inning and 4-3 in the ninth but lost to Villanova 5-4 when the Wildcats scored twice in their last at-bat in Fort Myers, Fla. Junior center fielder Bree Blanchette had a solo homer and a double for the Gophers (5-7). Minnesota had won its first two games in the LaQuinta Spring Break Invitational.
The Gophers' baseball team split a doubleheader with Western Michigan at the Metrodome, losing the first game 2-0, winning the second 15-1.