Men to get a glimpse of conference competition

The women, meanwhile, will get a glimpse of the SEC.

by Dane Mizutani

Over the course of the season, traveling has become almost instinctual for the Minnesota menâÄôs track and field team, and this weekend will be no different.

But this road trip will keep the Gophers closer to home as they will compete Saturday at the Iowa Musco Twilight in Iowa City, Iowa.

The competition also serves to scout teams Minnesota will see at the Big Ten Championships âÄî three other conference teams are competing.

âÄúIt will allow us to get a look at it down there,âÄù head coach Steve Plasencia said. âÄúObviously there will be some thought of that, but itâÄôs still a ways off.âÄù

 Minnesota will send mainly sprinters, jumpers and throwers to Iowa looking for continued success from the contingency of athletes.

Plasencia said this weekendâÄôs meet in Iowa is between two big meets, with the Mt. SAC Relays last weekend and the Drake Relays coming up next week, but the team still knows the importance of competing.

âÄúI can guarantee there [are] going to be some marks coming out of this weekend âÄî unless the weather is abysmal. There are going to be things that come out of this week that are steps forward,âÄù Plasencia.

Along with the sprinters and throwers, the 4×100- and 4×400-meter relay teams will also run, looking to post impressive times in Iowa.

The GophersâÄô 4×100-meter team of Cameron Boy, Ryan Todhunter, Sean King and Oladipo Fagbemi is coming off recent success at the Sun Angel Classic. They posted a season-best time of 41.06 seconds in Arizona.

Micah Hegerle, who has been a standout in the hammer throw thus far, will compete in the discus as well this weekend.

Ben Peterson will be the only athlete not traveling with the menâÄôs team to Iowa.

He will have the chance to compete at LSU in the pole vault against top-level competition and in good weather.

âÄúHe has not had an opportunity to jump in good conditions outdoors, and it just came up there was an ability to get him down there quite easily,âÄù Plasencia said.

Peterson already has a victory in the pole vault on his résumé this season, winning the event at the Jim Click Shootout with a height of 17 feet, 3 inches.

Minnesota will rest a majority of its distance runners this weekend. Such rest will be essential as they prepare for the Drake Relays next week.

Women to battle in LSU and Iowa this weekend

While some athletes from the womenâÄôs track and field team will join the menâÄôs team this weekend in Iowa City, others will make the trek to LSU to compete in the LSU Tiger Alumni Open.

The Gophers will send a fresh crew to both states, as the Mt. SAC Relays in California gave the sprinters, jumpers and throwers last weekend off.

Still, preparation has remained the same this week in practice.

âÄúWe just dropped the volume a little bit, had some good intensity and did some specific work,âÄù head coach Matt Bingle said. âÄúThey should feel, hopefully at this point, the best theyâÄôve felt coming into a meet.âÄù

Minnesota has received a positive contribution from its 4×100-meter relay team of Alena Brooks, Todea-Kay Willis, Nyoka Giles and Chimerem Okoroji this season, and will be looking for them to set a season-best mark against SEC competition this weekend. This team clocked a time of 45.92 seconds at the Sun Angel Classic the last time they were in action two weeks ago.

Though the 4×100-meter has been a main strength of this team, Bingle said he is excited for his team as a whole following a great week of practice.

âÄúTheyâÄôve been practicing really well âÄî itâÄôs just a matter of them being emotionally ready to go and compete and be themselves in that environment,âÄù he said.

The LSU Tiger Alumni Open will provide the Gophers with an opportunity to perform on a prominent stage, something that could prove crucial as the Big Ten Championships approach.

âÄúI think it is important for them,âÄù Bingle said. âÄúThey need to get into an environment where they do feel some pressure and see how they handle it and how they deal with themselves in that environment.âÄù

Similar to the menâÄôs team, the womenâÄôs team will rest its distance runners this weekend in preparation for the Drake Relays next week.