Weekend of preparation

David La

If the outdoor track season was an auto race, the No. 16 Gophers women’s track team spent this weekend under the yellow caution flag.
Minnesota kept the engines warm, but the chance to open up and let them roar at the Big Ten championships is still another three weeks away. For now, coach Gary Wilson is just trying to keep his team out of the pits.
“The main objective right now is to keep kids rested and to keep them healthy,” Wilson said. “It’s basically sharping and tuning time now.”
Competing at both the Twilight Invitational in Iowa City, Iowa, and the Heartland Classic at Bierman Field on Saturday, the Gophers posted a sprinkling of individual wins and NCAA provisional qualifying marks in various events against Division II and Division III schools.
In the throwing events, sophomore Brenda Meyer enjoyed a trio of strong finishes at the Twilight Invite. Meyer took first in the discus on the strength of a personal record, and second in both the hammer throw and shot put. Teammate Angie Hill won the hammer event with a mark of 162-1.
Minnesota also fared well on the track. Freshman Tanya Prince came in second in the 10,000-meter event, junior Genalyn Johnson took second in the 3,000-meter and sophomore Minna Haronoja took second in the 1,500-meter run.
Rounding out the Gophers finishes in somewhat bizarre fashion was junior Rasa Michniovaite’s win in the 800-meter event — she was the only entrant in the race — and Yvette White’s win in the 400-meter hurdles nine flights, a race in which there were only nine flights of hurdles instead of ten.
Attention to detail by event staff withstanding, Wilson called the Twilight meet “the nicest track meet I’ve ever been to in 31 years of coaching.”
Minnesota finished fourth as a team at the Twilight Invitational with a score of 142.50 points.
The remainder of the team hosted the Heartland Classic at Bierman Field, with a trio of throwers leading the way. Beth Howard (hammer throw), Aubrey Schmitt (shot put), and Nicole Chimko (discus) all turned in NCAA provisional qualifying marks Saturday.
Junior Tiffany Barron made her outdoor debut at Bierman, taking first in the 5,000-meter run.
Not much stock will be taken in the results of what Wilson called a “tinkering weekend,” but next week will be much more telling as the team will try to gauge its Big Ten chances.
“It’s all about the outdoor conference meet, that’s it,” Wilson said. “Everything else is geared around what we can do to get the individuals ready.”