Women’s weekend in Indiana Signifies step up in competition level

Coach Gary Wilson said the Meyo Invitational is a national-caliber meet.

Robert Mews

Minnesota’s women’s track and field team hasn’t faced the type of competition it will see at the Big Ten meet.

That will change this weekend when the Gophers head to South Bend, Ind., for the Meyo Invitational on Saturday and Sunday where, according to coach Gary Wilson, they will see some of the nations best track programs.

“This is a national-caliber meet,” Wilson said. “This is like the best of the best.”

Being one of the best will begin with Minnesota’s typically strong field of distance runners. The Gophers, to this point in the season, have overwhelmed their opponents in the 3,000 meter and mile runs.

Yet Wilson said that might change with the increased competition.

“You got to show kids that you know what, you got to work for everything you go after,” Wilson said. “And if you can handle the Notre Dame Invitational, or the Iowa State, then you can handle the pressures of the Big Ten.”

Senior Lauren Williams, who typically runs some of Minnesota’s distance events, said the team is looking forward to the event and the competition that will come with it.

“Right now I think we are a step or two ahead of where we were a week or two ago,” Williams said. “But I think we still have a long ways to go until Big Ten’s.”

Williams also said the runners will pay more attention to their running time rather than placement.

Wilson said he expects the increased competition will test the Gopher field events. He said the technique required to compete at a high level gets tougher to acquire with more competitions.

“Anybody can go in and perform when you’re relaxed and there’s no pressure and the competition isn’t as good,” Wilson said. “What we’re trying to do here is take kids out of their competition zone.”

Men also to be tested

The men’s track and field team will see the same type of competition increase, but at a different location.

Minnesota will perform at Lincoln, Neb., at the Husker Invitational on Friday and Saturday in what coach Phil Lundin said will be a tough test for the team.

Lundin said one particular area the team will face new challenges in is the weight throw. Senior Karl Erickson has dominated the shot put, winning every meet, while junior Adam Schnaible has dominated every meet in the weight throw.

“That’s not going to happen this weekend,” Lundin said. “The next two weekends they are going to be running into some national-caliber throwers.”

Lundin also said he expects the high jumpers to start competing at a higher level this meet.

“People flounder, flounder and flounder, and then all of a sudden they come out of the woodwork and they have a great performance,” Lundin said. “Sometimes people just get into a slump, or they’re trying to learn a new technique.”