Eight qualify for NCAA final meet

Minnesota tied a program record of National Championship qualifiers.

by Carissa Polo

The women’s track and field team came out of last week’s West Preliminary meet with a program-high eight athletes advancing to the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Ore., June 8-11. 
Minnesota qualified for the championship meet in eight different events. The last time the team had eight qualifiers was in 2008.
“Our team won a Big Ten Championship, and we’ve accomplished all of our goals that we set as a team this year,” redshirt senior Lyndsey Thorpe said. “This is like the icing on the cake — the cherry on top.” 
Thorpe helped Minnesota get out to a successful start in the first day of the preliminary last Friday in Lawrence, Kan.
Thorpe broke the previous program record in in the hammer throw with a seventh-place mark of 62.04 meters and advanced to the NCAA Championships. 
The meet will cap off the redshirt senior’s career as a first-time qualifier for the championship meet.
 “I came close the past two years,” Thorpe said. “With this being my fifth year, it’s just a good feeling.” 
Four more Gophers were added to the list of NCAA Championship qualifiers by the end of Friday’s action in the 10,000-meter run, javelin, 3,000-meter steeplechase and the high jump.  
Minnesota continued action on Saturday but hit a bump in the road early on.  
The team looked to have its 4×400-meter relay team qualify for the NCAA Championships for the third year in a row but had to sit junior Titania Markland due to an injury. The team moved into a fourth-best time in program history as sophomore Emma Spagnola was substituted for Markland, but it was not enough.
The quartet finished 16th overall and missed qualifying for the NCAA Championships by less than two seconds. 
The rest of the day was successful for the team, as freshman Shanique Wright finished in fourth place in the triple jump at her first West Preliminary meet. 
Wright advanced to the NCAA Championships with a career-best mark of 13.03 meters. She is Minnesota’s third-ever qualifier for the event and the first for the Gophers since 2003.
Sophomore Agnes Esser continued the underclassman streak as she finished as runner-up in discus at her first NCAA qualifier.
Esser threw 57.91 meters, breaking Minnesota’s previous discus record from 1999 of 55.72 
meters and qualified for the NCAA Championships. 
“That was probably one of the best moments of the meet, honestly,” Thorpe said. “We were all so happy 
for her.”