Gophers men finish eighth at NCAA indoor championships

Two Gophers women earned All-America honors.

by Derek Wetmore

The Gophers menâÄôs track team indoor season concluded last weekend with an eighth-place finish at the NCAA Championships in Fayetteville, Ark . Five Gophers, including three seniors, earned All-American honors. Three seniors, thrower Aaron Studt, heptathlete R.J. McGinnis and distance runner Chris Rombough each earned the honors, as did the distance medley relay team composed of Rombough, Ben Blankenship , Logan Stroman and Harun Abda. Head coach Steve Plasencia said in a statement that the finish was significant for the program. âÄúIâÄôm proud of the guys,âÄù Plasencia said in the statement following the meet. âÄúWe were able to score points in a variety of areas.âÄù Plasencia was unavailable for further comment. Studt was named an All-American in both the weight throw and the shot put. In the shot put, Studt landed a throw of 61-5 1/2, becoming the first Gophers athlete to earn back-to-back All-American honors in the event since Ron Backes in 1985-1986. Studt also received All-American accolades for his fifth-place finish in the weight throw. He matched his career-best throw with a distance of 69-7 1/2, good for his fourth overall All-American selection and first in the weight throw. Studt was the Big Ten champion for both the shot put and the weight throw for the 2009-10 indoor season. McGinnis placed sixth in the heptathlon with a two-day score of 5,676. McGinnis sat in second place after the first day of competition, but struggled in the pole vault portion of the competition, finishing last in the event. McGinnisâÄô All-American selection is the first of his Minnesota career. Teammates Jack Szmanda and Brock Spand l placed ninth and 10th, respectively, in the heptathlon. Rombough took seventh in the 3,000-meter run with a time of 8 minutes, 15.11 seconds, and he anchored MinnesotaâÄôs distance medley relay team to a third-place finish, overcoming an ankle injury, Plasencia said. âÄúIâÄôm so happy for those guys,âÄù Plasencia said in the statement. âÄúChris [Rombough] âĦ finished that race on pure desire.âÄù Matt Fisher also competed for the Gophers, securing a ninth-place finish in the high jump by clearing a height of 7 1/4. The finish is MinnesotaâÄôs highest since a 2003 seventh-place effort. Women capture two All-American titles Senior Megan Duwell received an All-American bid for placing sixth in the 5,000-meter run. Duwell bested her own school record with a time of 15:59.23, more than 12 seconds under the old record. Junior Samantha Sonnenberg set a career-best mark by pole-vaulting her way to a height of 14-1 1/4. The height was good for seventh place at the championships and earned Sonnenberg All-American honors.