Track team gets help from Wilberforce, Ohio

by Tim Klobuchar

Rarely does anything that happens in Wilberforce, Ohio, have an impact on anything at the University of Minnesota. One marked exception happened last year, and the Gophers women’s track program was the beneficiary.
Wilberforce-based Central State University experienced a budget crisis last year, and track and field was one of the programs axed. The team disbanded, and virtually everyone affiliated with it left the school. Coach Jahan Culbreath ended up at Minnesota as an assistant to head coach Gary Wilson, who in turn helped secure Chanteau White, one of Central State’s top track athletes.
White, a junior from Allen, Texas, has made an immediate impact at Minnesota. She continued her success at the University Fieldhouse on Saturday in the Minnesota Invite, winning two events and breaking a school record.
White won the long jump with a leap of 18 feet, 8 inches, and broke the school record in the 55-meter dash with a time of 6 minutes, 97 seconds. That time also provisionally qualified her for the NCAA Indoor Championships.
“She’s a great kid, too,” Wilson said. “Her overall attitude has been great, considering she’s had to adjust to Minnesota. She probably thinks this is Siberia.”
Another newcomer, freshman Natalie Smith, won the Gophers’ other first by winning the triple jump. Minnesota won the nine-school meet easily with 142 points. North Dakota State was second with 99. Iowa, the only other Big Ten school in the meet, finished fourth with 73 points.
Men’s track and field
The Gophers had three first-place finishes at the Invite. Team scores were not recorded.
Freshman Adam Freed (400-meter run), senior Tony Riter (3,000) and junior Will Kurth (high jump) all finished first in their respective events.
Men’s tennis staying alive
Three Gophers were still alive in the Big Ten Indoor Singles Championships in Champaign, Ill., though none have a chance at winning the championship bracket.
The only Minnesota player to make it past the second round of the championship bracket was sophomore Tom Chicoine. The tournament’s No. 14 seed lost to unseeded Matt Wright of Michigan in the third round Sunday.
Senior Ben Gabler, the No. 5 seed, also fell to an unseeded player. He lost to Wisconsin’s Mike Goldstein in the first round Saturday.
The championship matches are today.