On Feb. 27, Minnesota’s women’s track and field team finished the Big Ten Indoor Championships in third place, tied for the best finish in school history.
Less than a month later, competition started again for the Gophers, and Saturday in Oxford, Miss., the team will compete at the Ole Miss Invitational, its second event of the outdoor season.
And that quick turnaround is just part of the series of adjustments the team faces heading into the outdoor season.
Coach Gary Wilson said controlling the athletes’ level of intensity will be a key throughout the early part of its outdoor schedule.
“Coming off an intense indoor conference meet, you can’t take that intensity too early into the outdoor season, and then kind of get to the middle of April and go ‘OK, I’m done,’ ” he said. “Physically, mentally, emotionally, there’s just a lot of stress there.”
Although emotional adjustment to the outdoor season looms as a potential sticking point for the Gophers, the runners said they will appreciate the physical shift to the outdoors.
With a 400-meter track and competition taking place underneath blue skies, as opposed to a ceiling, sophomore sprinter Kadian Douglas said most of the team welcomes the move outside.
“Some (runners) have problems running indoors, in terms of breathing,” Douglas said. “So as soon as they get the chance to go outdoors, it’s good. And then running indoors, it’s a lot more pressure on your body, in terms of the corners, because it’s only 200 (meter tracks).”
As a consequence of the northern climate in Minnesota, the outdoor season presents issues for the Gophers in terms of their travel schedule.
Of the 10 women’s teams competing at the Ole Miss Invitational, Minnesota is the only school entered into the meet not hailing from the South.
The invitational is the second of four spring road trips that will take the track team on journeys of more than 1,000 miles. Minnesota will also travel to Knoxville, Tenn., and Walnut, Calif., for meets during the next two weeks.
Though all the mileage the Gophers are logging seems daunting, junior distance runner Amy Lindner said it’s something that will help the team.
“It’s definitely a benefit competing in warmer climates,” she said, “because it gets you prepared for the Big Ten meet.”
And preparation for later in the season is exactly what Wilson said he hopes his team will glean from the Ole Miss Invitational.
“It’s just seeing where we stand after another couple weeks of training,” Wilson said. “It’s not the final test. This is a quiz; it’s a quiz weekend.”