Minnesota track coaches preview upcoming Big Ten meet

The women’s team took first first place in the Big Ten Outdoor Championships in 2018.

Junior Eric Walker hurdles on Wednesday, May 1, 2019 at the Mens track Twilight meet at the Minneapolis Track and Field Stadium.

Image by Tony Saunders

Junior Eric Walker hurdles on Wednesday, May 1, 2019 at the Men’s track Twilight meet at the Minneapolis Track and Field Stadium.

by Babatunde Jinadu

This year’s Big Ten Outdoor Track and Field Championships are right around the corner, running from Friday to Sunday at the University of Iowa.

Last year, the Gopher women’s team took first place at the ­conference meet, while the men finished in seventh. This year, Director Matt Bingle said he expects both teams to make another competitive push, especially the female athletes who are expected to finish at least among the top-three teams.

A first place finish for the women would be the third Big Ten Outdoor title in four years and fourth in team history. 

“I think we’re in a really good position heading to the Big Ten meet. We are where we’re supposed to be,” said Assistant Coach Ibrahim Kabia. “If everybody does what they’re supposed to do, I think we’ll be a in a pretty good spot.”

The thrower unit looks primed to make a large impact on the score for this year’s meet. For the women, senior Temi Ogunrinde enters this year as the defending Big Ten champion in the hammer throw. Kiley Sabin had a great year throwing the shot put. Kieran McKeag and Kaleb Siekmeier performed well for the men in the hammer and discus throws respectively.

“I think on paper we’re supposed to contribute a lot, and I think the group gels well together and does a good job of supporting each other at meets,” said Peter Miller, throwing coach. “I have pretty high expectations. I think combining the two genders, if we can get close to 50 points at the Big Ten meet, I’d be really excited.”

The team projects that they are on track for those 50 points, based on their previous performances. 

“I think we had 24 to 26 [points] indoors, so if we can double that when we have twice as many events, I’d be really excited about that,” Miller said. “We have a couple of people that are pushing to win. So if we can have a Big Ten individual champion or two and score a bunch of points, it’d hopefully help build towards some good team finishes.”

This year’s meet will be the first conference championship meet since the men’s and women’s teams merged under the same leadership in 2019.

“On the both sides, it’s gone really well. On the men’s side, we don’t have any seniors and this is my first year coaching the men, so it’s been a lot of learning,” Miller said. “On the women’s side, we have some really good seniors and we have some really good young kids. The transition of combining programs has gone way smoother than I thought it would.”