Senior class back to business as usual: finding success on and off track

Few other Minnesota teams have a class as accomplished as the womenâÄôs track and field 2009 senior class. The 15-member class has six Big Ten team titles, 10 Big Ten individual titles, three All-Americans and 12 school records. In 2004 and 2005, the womenâÄôs track team didnâÄôt compete in the NCAA indoor and outdoor competitions. When this class arrived in 2006, the Gophers finished a school best 12th at the NCAA indoor track and field competition and won the Big Ten outdoor title. Coach Matt Bingle said some of the seniors joined the team at different times because of redshirting, transferring and other reasons, but all have had a large impact on the team. âÄúBefore they came in, we were like fourth to eighth in the Big Ten from 2003-2006,âÄù Bingle said. âÄúWith them in the program we have definitely been better.âÄù Some seniors have six titles through cross country and track, while others have four if they just competed in track. But regardless of the exact number of championships they have, itâÄôs hard to argue against this group of athletes, Bingle said. Earning the cross country titles in 2007 and 2008, the outdoor title in 2006 and the indoor title in 2007, 2008, and 2009, the senior class âÄúgot us going and put us over the top,âÄù Bingle said. With 10 Big Ten individual titles, the senior class has also left their mark on the individual records. The senior class holds 12 Minnesota track and field records and four of the top seven times in the Gophers cross country record books. âÄúAlmost all of them have improved tremendously from their high school marks and from their first year to now,âÄù Bingle said. âÄúTheyâÄôve come a long way but itâÄôs attributed to them âÄî to the work theyâÄôve put in.âÄù Liz Roehrig is MinnesotaâÄôs first four-time champion in the same event when she won four times in the pentathlon. Heather Dorniden captured the first track title in Gophers history, winning the 800-meter run in 2006. Dorniden, along with Roehrig and Jamie Cheever, are three All-Americans earning national acclaims a combined 15 times. Off the track, this senior class has also seen a fair amount of success boasting 21 Academic All-Big Ten citations and two Academic All-Americans in Ladia Albertson-Junkans and Dorniden. âÄúThey are committed to being good students,âÄù Bingle said. âÄúThey are good leaders and good people. They are hard workers and lead-by-example type people.âÄù With all of the success this senior class has had, Bingle said he believes the Gophers are in a good position to continue their success. The first-year class scored the most first-year points at the Big Ten meet out of any school in the Big Ten. The underclassmen will have large shoes to fill, Bingle said. âÄúThey have to take everything the senior group is doing and step up and keep this thing going,âÄù Bingle said. âÄúThey have the talent. They just have to believe and put time in and the work in.âÄù