Track teams tune up for

David La

The Gophers men’s and women’s track and field teams competed in the same Bierman Stadium under two different event names this weekend, the Minnesota Last Chance for the men and the Minnesota Qualifier for the women.
Both meets served the same purpose, as the athletes competed largely to gain personal momentum one week before Big Tens and qualify for NCAA competition — or just get out and do their thing, even if in secondary events.
The men’s team featured sophomore sprinter Steve Burkholder competing in and winning the 400-meter dash for the first time. His involvement in the event gave him a newfound respect for his teammates.
“I didn’t know how to run it,” Burkholder said. “I talked to Tom Gerding (the Gophers’ top 400-meter competitor) afterward and told him I couldn’t understand why he wanted to run that race each week. It hurts the legs.”
Burkholder didn’t suffer in vain, however. Coach Phil Lundin is looking for Burkholder to run the same distance in the Big Tens.
“We threw him in because there may be a strong possibility he might have to run a leg of the 4×400 relay (at Big Tens),” Lundin said. “I think he went into it with trepidation, but he ran very well for his first time.”
Both teams enjoyed success in the throwing events, highlighted by freshman Linda Lindqvist winning the javelin with a NCAA automatic qualifying throw of 172-6.
Sophomore Adam Reed provisionally qualified for the NCAAs in the discus with a personal best mark of 56.38 meters.
“I’ve been stuck at a wall of about 53 meters thus far, and I was finally able to break through,” Reed said.
While a lot of the two teams’ top competitors did not compete Saturday, women’s throwers coach Lynne Anderson was looking for solid results from her group.
“We’ve got to get the ball rolling going into the Big Ten meet,” Anderson said. “You’ve got to get a rhythm.”
Women’s coach Gary Wilson is also looking for his team to be ready, but is sending a message of prudence to his athletes as well.
“I think everybody is starting to come around at this time of year which is obviously what we need,” Wilson said. “This week we’ll be making sure people have their focus, but not allow them to make (Big Tens) a bigger thing than it is.”