Gophers scramble in final meets before Big Ten championships

Meet cancellations have made it tough to finalize rosters for the conference meet.

Minnesota thrower Micah Hegerle throws at the Jack Johnson invitational on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, at the University Fieldhouse.

Bridget Bennett

Minnesota thrower Micah Hegerle throws at the Jack Johnson invitational on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, at the University Fieldhouse.

Megan Ryan

The Gophers men’s and women’s track and field teams scrambled to finalize their Big Ten outdoor championship rosters this weekend.

Both teams were scheduled to compete at a local meet Wednesday, but it was canceled due to weather. While two meets ran as planned this weekend, Wednesday’s cancellation delayed the roster announcements by several days.

Women’s volunteer assistant coach Sarah Hesser said the team hoped to make conference team announcements Thursday, but it didn’t actually make decisions until late this weekend.

“We wanted to obviously have that figured out by Wednesday night because then we’d have a whole week left before the actual departure to the [Big Ten] meet,” Hesser said. “That would make everybody’s lives a little easier … in terms of their preparation for the conference meet.”

Some athletes competed for Big Ten spots at the Hamline Meet of the UnSaintly on Friday and Saturday. Others had to prove themselves during time trials in practice late last week.

The Gophers have had to juggle indoor and outdoor training and competition this spring. Hesser called it one of the most challenging and frustrating springs for the team, but she said the athletes have not been fazed.

“For the most part, I’ve been super impressed with the girls just with how flexible they’ve been,” Hesser said. “They could definitely have let it throw them for a loop when things keep changing.”

The Gophers picked up six titles at the Hamline meet, four from the throwing team. Sophomore Tina DeLakis won the shot put with a throw of 13.92 meters. Redshirt freshman Lyndsey Thorpe took home the hammer throw title in 53.92 meters. Sophomore Devin Stanford placed first in the discus throw at 45.25 meters. Senior Emily Betz topped the javelin field at 42.38 meters.

Sophomore Katie Murgic won the pole vault at 3.83 meters.

Redshirt freshman Kate Bucknam won the 3,000-meter steeplechase in 11:00.74.

While the men’s team also competed at the Hamline meet, most of its best results came at the NDSU Tune-Up meet in Fargo, N.D. The Gophers originally planned to compete at Northern Iowa, but they switched for better weather conditions.

Minnesota picked up five titles in North Dakota, with all but one coming from the throws group.

Sophomore Logan Connors led a top-three sweep in the javelin at 61.47 meters. Sophomore Mark Jennings placed first in the shot put with a toss of 17.73 meters.

Sophomore Justin Barber topped the discus throw at 57.36 meters. Senior Micah Hegerle won the hammer throw with a distance of 65.51 meters.

Hegerle said this outdoor season has added the challenge of trying to work around the weather.

 

“You just really have to be flexible,” Hegerle said, “to be able to train when it’s nice and not have to stick to a schedule.”

Redshirt freshman Christian Skaret also led a podium sweep of the 800-meter run in 1:52.92.

Men’s head coach Steve Plasencia said he has several concerns about the upcoming Big Ten outdoor championships.

“We have to make [Big Ten roster] decisions on less-than-perfect information,” Plasencia said. “One of my concerns is, if we’re coming out of 40-, 50-degree weather and all of a sudden we get to Ohio State — I saw a prediction in the 80s — that’s a worry for me.”