Young steeplechasers make progress

Junior Kelli Budd won her first 3,000-meter steeplechase since high school.

Megan Ryan

The Gophers men’s and women’s track teams claimed a combined nine event titles Saturday at the Musco Twilight in Iowa City, Iowa.

The women tallied five titles, including several sweeps.

Junior Kelli Budd won the 3,000-meter steeplechase in 10:37.77, and redshirt freshman Kaila Urick placed second. It was Budd’s first steeplechase since her junior year of high school.

“My goal was actually to run sub-10:40, but I knew that that was going to be kind of tough,” Budd said. “I kind of surprised myself a little bit because that was kind of like my ultimate goal this weekend.”

The progress of Budd and the Gophers’ five other steeplechasers highlights the team’s emphasis on developing the event the past few seasons.

“I think right now we’ve got six people under 11 minutes. … For the steeple, that’s kind of one of those barrier marks,” volunteer assistant coach Sarah Hesser said. “Obviously we want to get a few more under 10:30 now, but to have six people that are all underclassmen and will all be back next year … really speaks highly of that group.”

Hesser  said the group will continue to improve this year and eventually become threats at the Big Ten championships and the NCAA regionals and finals in the coming years.

Junior Laura Docherty won the 3,000-meter run in 9:28.57, followed by junior Katie Moraczewski in second. Redshirt freshman Becca Dyson led a top-eight sweep of the 1,500-meter run with a time of 4:30.30.

In the field, redshirt freshman Lyndsey Thorpe placed first in the open section of the hammer throw at 51.86 meters, and senior Amy Kubat followed in second. Senior Kelsey Joson won the triple jump in 12.15 meters.

The women claimed one more title this weekend at the LSU Alumni Gold Meet. Senior Todea-Kay Willis won the long jump in 6.08 meters.

The men’s team won four events at the Musco Twilight, despite Saturday’s cool Iowa weather that made good marks difficult to achieve.

“The conditions earlier in the day were better, and then it got pretty cold at night,” head coach Steve Plasencia said. “You look outside here, it’s hard to imagine it’s track season, which makes things hard.”

Junior Zach Siegmeier continued his dominance in the pole vault, winning the event at 5.06 meters.

Senior Nick Hutton won the 800-meter run in 1:51.51. Minnesota’s 4×400-meter relay team of junior Jacob Capek, senior Harun Abda, redshirt freshman Goaner Deng and senior Cameron Boy also won, in 3:13.10.

Redshirt freshman Luke Johnson won the open section of the discus throw in 49.8 meters.