Minnesota excels at local, national meets

Grant Donald

When her college career is completed, Jess Herauf might be considered one of the most versatile track athletes to wear a Gophers’ uniform.
 
Herauf already holds the program record for the pentathlon, which she set back in January. And now, the redshirt junior is at the top of the program’s list in the heptathlon after breaking the record Saturday at the Virginia Challenge.
 
“After she broke the record in the pentathlon, I kind of figured that it was only a matter of time before [Herauf] beat our heptathlon record,” head coach Matt Bingle said. “The scary thing is that she still has a little over a year to improve on her marks.”
 
In addition to breaking the program record, Herauf’s strong performance over the weekend brought home the meet’s title. 
 
Herauf earned first-place finishes in the high jump, shot put, long jump and 800-meter run.
 
“I think when you are able to win the first couple events [of the heptathlon], it really takes some pressure off,” Herauf said. “It makes finishing sixth in the hurdles easier to take if you won some other events.”
 
While Herauf and the rest of the heptathlon athletes were in Virginia, the rest of the Gophers were competing locally at Concordia-St. Paul.
In St. Paul, three 
 
Minnesota underclassmen brought home titles; redshirt sophomores Taylor Mikkalson and Kate Shelerud won the 1,500-meter run and the 400-meter dash, respectively. Also, true freshman Heta Tuuri took home the high jump title.
 
“It was nice for our younger athletes to experience some success,” Bingle said. “It can be a long season, so whenever those [underclassmen] get to take center stage, it’s a good thing.”
 
Men bring home six titles 
 
 
On the men’s side, underclassmen also excelled over the weekend, when most of the team traveled to Northfield, Minn., to compete in the Carleton Relays.
 
Freshman Tyler Tappe brought home the title in the pole vault after clearing five meters — a new personal best.
 
“A lot has been said about [freshman pole vaulter] Glen Harold, but Tyler has also quietly been putting together a solid first year for us,” head coach Steve Plasencia said. “Regardless, with both of these freshmen, our pole vault future sure looks bright.”
 
Sophomore Ben Holcomb also won his event, bringing home the title in the 110-meter hurdles.
 
Holcomb held off teammate and fellow sophomore Luca Wieland, who finished less then 0.3 seconds behind him for second place.
 
“The kids just love to compete, so when a race comes down to a couple tenths of a second, you know that each athlete is getting better no matter what place they finish in,” Plasencia said.