In her final year as a Husker, senior co-captain Ann Gaffigan is hopeful she can make a return trip to the NCAA Championships. Gaffigan should be a lock to become only the 16th NU women's cross country runner to earn letters in four consecutive seasons. Gaffigan and teammate Kathryn Handrup are looking to become the first women in program history to be named to the NCAA All-Midwest Region team all four seasons.
"Ann is one of the better runners we've ever had in cross country," Head Coach Jay Dirksen said. "She is a great leader and I expect her to have an outstanding senior season."
Looking to improve on her sophomore year, Gaffigan fell shy of qualifying for the NCAA Championships but finished 10th (20:59.61) at the NCAA Midwest Regional. She was named to the Women's Intercollegiate Cross Country Coaches Association's Academic All-America team for the second consecutive year.
Gaffigan had a solid season on the track as well. At the Big 12 Indoor Championships, she finished seventh in the mile run (4:59.61), helping the Huskers to a second-place team finish. In the spring, Gaffigan and teammate Anne Shadle teamed up to pack a powerful one-two punch in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Gaffigan earned a sixth-place finish at the Big 12 Outdoor Championships (11:08.91) and ran a regional-qualifying time in dismal weather at the Nebraska Twilight (10:58.73). Narrowly missing the top five and a trip to nationals, Gaffigan was sixth in the 3,000-meter steeplechase (10:47.42) at the NCAA Midwest Regional.
The lone Nebraska representative at the NCAA Championships, Gaffigan placed 98th out of 249 competitors with a time of 22:08. It was the only time during the course of the season that she failed to break the 22-minute mark at that distance after entering the race at less than 100 percent health. Gaffigan's placement at the NCAA Midwest Region Championships combined with her high grade-point average, earned her a spot on the WICCCA Academic All-America team.
During the indoor track season Gaffigan placed seventh in the mile run in 4:54.41 at the Big 12 Indoor Championships. Gaffigan struggled through the outdoor season with a sickness and saw limited action.
A great surprise during the 2000 cross country season, Gaffigan produced an impressive freshman campaign. With her 25th-place finish at the regional meet, Gaffigan was named to the All-Midwest Region team by the WICCCA.
Gaffigan was even stronger on the track. She finished second in the mile at the Big 12 Indoor Championships, finishing in a personal-best and NCAA provisional-qualifying time of 4:46.44 assisting the team to the championship. The outdoor track season was just as successful for Gaffigan, as she clocked an NCAA provisional-qualifying time in the 5,000-meter run (16:47.06) at the Stanford Invite. Her 3,000-meter steeplechase best of 10:35.36 (10-foot pit) came in winning the UCLA, Cal State-Northridge Triangular, held at UCLA. Gaffigan finished third in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the Big 12 Outdoor Championships, helping the Huskers to a runner-up team finish.
Coached by her father Ed Gaffigan, Ann was the Class AA 1998 Illinois 3,200-meter champion, a feat she repeated as a senior in 2000 in a personal-best time of 10:27.73. She suffered from mononucleosis her junior year and did not compete.
As a sophomore, she was the 1998 Illinois cross country champion. In addition to participating in cross country and track, Gaffigan played sweeper and midfielder for the Blazers' soccer team. A standout in the classroom, Gaffigan was also SHG's salutatorian.
The daughter of Ed and Chris Gaffigan, Ann was born Oct. 5, 1981, in Springfield, Ill. Gaffigan has a sister, Catherine, 31, and a brother, Matt, 29, both graduates of the U.S. Military Academy. Ann is a J.D. Edwards Honors Program Scholar and is a computer science major with a 3.86 GPA. She was named to the Dean's List in 2001 and 2002. Gaffigan is engaged to Danny Mauer.