Gophers set to compete at West Regional meet

Minnesota will have 19 athletes compete at the NCAA preliminary meet.

by Jack White

The men’s track and field team will send 19 of its athletes from 12 events to the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field West Preliminary in Lawrence, Kan., this weekend. 

The No. 13 Gophers hope to find success at the meet en route to qualifying for the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field National Championships in two weeks. 

“I think it’s been pretty representative of what we did for the past year, so I think it’s an adequate number,” head coach Steve Plasencia said. “Hopefully the opportunity presents, and some guys make it on to the national final.”

The Gophers will send two relay teams to the meet. Senior Goaner Deng, redshirt sophomore Brad Neumann, redshirt junior Nate Roese and freshman Jack Wellenstein make up the fifth-seeded 4×400 meter relay team for Minnesota. 

Neumann, alongside redshirt sophomore Jordan Charles, senior Gemechu Godi and redshirt junior Trevor Yedoni make up the 4×100 meter relay team, which qualified for the event with a 40.14 time — the second-fastest mark in school history. 

Junior Luca Wieland qualified for the NCAA Championships in the decathlon but has declined to compete in an attempt to qualify for the German Olympic team instead, which has tryouts around the same time.

The two-time All-American qualified for the preliminary meet in the high jump and long jump but will put most of his attention on the long jump. His 7.91-meter qualifying jump is ranked third among all of the preliminary invitees. 

“I’m not really planning on going to nationals in the [high jump] so I really want to focus on the long jump because I can make it to the NCAAs with that,” Wieland said. 

Senior Sean Donnelly will make his first NCAA preliminary appearance in the hammer throw. The senior holds the school record for best hammer, and his qualifying throw of 74.35 meters is second among preliminary competitors.

Donnelly was a four-time Division III national champion before transferring to Minnesota for his senior campaign. 

“This is one of the bigger meets that I envisioned competing in when I transferred here and now it’s here,” Donnelly said.

Minnesota sent 16 athletes to last year’s preliminary and hopes to best the four qualifiers that later moved on to the NCAA Championships. 

“I think that we have some people in events that have had good years, and we have some people who started to step it up as we got towards the end,” said Plasencia. “I definitely think that we were carried to those national rankings by a few individuals, and from what I’ve heard those guys are ready to go.”