Maroney will run at conference meet

Gophers freshman running back Laurence Maroney will compete in the 60-meter dash.

Brian Stensaas

Though the Sun Bowl was nearly two months ago and spring football practice is still a couple more away, Minnesota’s football players have been busy on campus working out on their own.

And for one, the conditioning isn’t just preparation for the gridiron.

Running back Laurence Maroney, who averaged 86.2 rushing yards per game and scored 10 touchdowns this last season for the Gophers, has been working out when he can with Minnesota’s men’s track and field team. The freshman made his collegiate debut on the track last weekend, running unattached in the 60-meter dash and finishing fourth at the Snowshoe Open with a time of 6.93 seconds.

He confirmed Monday night that he will be joining the Gophers this weekend in Ann Arbor, Mich., for the Big Ten men’s indoor track and field championships.

“Running track is nice because it keeps my legs fresh,” Maroney said. “It helps me keep in shape. And if I’m fast in track, I can be fresh in football.”

Like many Minnesota athletes, Maroney was a multisport participant in high school.

In addition to being a four-time all-conference selection and racking up 4,808 career rushing yards for Normandy High School in St. Louis, Mo., Maroney was a two-time MVP of Normandy’s boy’s basketball team and lettered three times in track. In his sophomore season, Maroney was on the state champion 4×400 relay team and finished third at state in the 200-meter run.

The decision to continue his multi-dimensional talent in college is something that can only help his football prowess.

“Track and field is the premier foundation for all physical activity; you run, jump and throw,” Minnesota men’s track and field coach Phil Lundin said. “What you have with someone like Maroney is tremendous acceleration abilities, from zero velocity to a pretty high level in a short amount of time.”

Lundin admitted that Maroney isn’t completely tuned, needing work on his starts from the blocks on the track. He also said that Maroney’s weightlifting regimen for football is different from that of a track athlete.

“You don’t want to increase mass,” Lundin said. “Strength, yes. But not mass unless you’re in the throwing events.

“Football players are football players first here,” he continued. “They have to do lifting protocol and many other conditioning type drills.”

Though he has been in the spotlight in high school and at the college level, Maroney was nervous at the Snowshoe Open because he didn’t know what to expect.

But the butterflies have subsided and he feels ready for the Big Ten meet beginning Saturday.

“The skill level will be different at Big Tens, but I have a feel for how it’s going to be,” he said. “I just want to help the team, and they’ve really been encouraging me.”

Maroney hopes to improve his 60-meter dash time in Michigan to somewhere in the 6.8 second range.

Minnesota’s football coaches are away from the Twin Cities and were not available for comment. However, coach Glen Mason has previously said he encourages multisport athletes. At a press conference earlier this month announcing this year’s recruits, Mason said he was supportive of incoming defensive end Everett Pedescleaux, who is also pursuing a college basketball career at Minnesota.