Men and women’s track packing up and heading for warmer weather

Track and Field

Jules Ameel

Track and Field

After a week of unusual weather, the Minnesota menâÄôs and womenâÄôs track and field teams are ready to head south. Both teams will compete in the Auburn Invitational in Auburn, Ala., this weekend . MenâÄôs head coach Steve Plasencia said it will be nice to get out of the cold. âÄúItâÄôs a particularly hard time in Minnesota right now, training wise,âÄù he said. âÄúI think the guys look forward to get the sweatpants off and run in the warm weather.âÄù The menâÄôs track team will see teams from the Southeastern Conference and the Atlantic Coast Conference while at the Tiger Classic. Known for being strong track and field conferences, the SEC and ACC will provide good competition for the Gophers. âÄúThis will be an opportunity for some of our guys to rub elbows with some pretty good athletes,âÄù Plasencia said. âÄúWeâÄôre just trying to get some people improving and get them going. Our focus of our efforts will be May when we get to the conference championship.âÄù The good competition will be showcased in the 100-meter dash. Senior Ibrahim Kabia is the defending Big Ten 100-meter champion and will be challenged by several top sprinters from other schools in this meet. However, Plasencia said for other athletes, this will be their second time competing. âÄúThe first time, theyâÄôre still shaking the rust off,âÄù he said. âÄúIâÄôm really interested in watching those guys compete.âÄù No matter the outcome, Plasencia said he realizes the beginning of the outdoor season can have some rough patches, but the team just has to work through them. âÄúMore than being outcome-oriented, IâÄôm looking for us to improve, run faster and get things rolling for later,âÄù he said. Women split up The womenâÄôs track and field team will be split this weekend. Most of the team will be in Auburn with the men, but two athletes, senior Liz Roehrig and freshman Nikki Schultz, are in Tucson, Ariz., to complete in the Jim Click Shootout, which ends today . They are in Arizona because the Auburn meet doesnâÄôt have a heptathlon. WomenâÄôs coach Matt Bingle is with Roehrig and Schultz until today and than will travel to Alabama to be with the rest of the team. Bingle said it is still early in the season so he would like to see effort over great results. âÄúIt will be our first real meet outdoors with our whole team,âÄù he said. âÄúIâÄôm excited to see where weâÄôre at and where we have to work.âÄù Entering this meet, the women are ranked 12th in the USTFCCCA preseason poll. Roehrig is ranked first in the heptathlon for the preseason. The athletes to watch are a trio of MinnesotaâÄôs first years. Chimerem Okoroji, Nyoka Giles and Kylie Peterson put 15 entries into MinnesotaâÄôs all-time top-10 list in the 60-meter dash during the indoor season. In the outdoor season, they will compete in the 100-meter dash . Bingle said he hopes his team competes well, knowing the athletes will get better as the season goes on. âÄúWeâÄôre a good overall team and thatâÄôs why we have won championships,âÄù he said. âÄúItâÄôs because we have a well-rounded team.âÄù