Once a year, Minnesota’s men’s track and field team goes to Eugene, Ore., to Hayward Field ññ one of the most tradition-rich track homes in the world.
It’s what coach Phil Lundin calls “our annual pilgrimage to world-class track facilities.”
On Saturday, the Gophers took second place in the four-team Oregon Team Invitational at the site, finishing with 169 points ññ behind the Ducks’ 191.
“We had a lot more good finishes than poor,” Lundin said. “But participating in front of 4,000 fans at Hayward Field, our guys were in track heaven.”
The Gophers had five first-place finishes, led by junior thrower Karl Erickson, who won the shot put and discus events.
Senior Lynden Reder finished first in the hammer throw with a 209-01 toss, rewriting the Gophers’ record ññ just as he did a week before in the Texas Relays.
Sophomore Trent Riter and senior Adam Steele led the Gophers’ runners with first-place finishes in what Lundin said were ideal weather conditions.
Steele ran the 200-meter dash in 21.21, and Riter’s 1:49.75 time in the 800-meter run qualified him for NCAA regionals.
Andrew Carlson, who took a medical redshirt and sat out the entire 2003 cross country season, finished the 3,000-meter run in second place.
Lundin said Carlson ran 100 percent pain-free.
“It was a great meet,” Lundin said. “As usual, we’re always hoping for more, but we did a nice job.”
Women take third
Minnesota’s women’s track and field team’s trip to Eugene was a homecoming for Gophers throwing coach Lynne Anderson.
As an Oregon athlete, Anderson, who was Lynne Winbigler then, was an All-American. She excelled at both the national and international levels.
Head coach Gary Wilson took the team into campus to show them the plaque named after Anderson ññ the Winbigler Performer of the Year award, given to the best performance on a national or international level by an Oregon athlete.
And when it came to the meet, Minnesota’s throwers made their coach proud, taking first place in the shot put
and discus, and second in the hammer.
“Overall, we did a very good job,” Wilson said. “The throwers did a great job.”
The Gophers notched five first-place titles at the Oregon Team Invitational, but as a team finished third behind Oregon and Washington.
The Ducks scored 184 team points, the Huskies 169 and the Gophers 160. Colorado finished fourth with 100.
Senior Alean Frawley was the top finisher in the shot put with a toss of 48-02.75, beating teammate Liz Alabi by 2.25 inches.
Senior Nicole Kopari won the discus event by throwing a personal-best 163-03, topping her previous record set March 19.
Minnesota’s runners had success in Oregon as well ññ particularly the sprinters.
Melissa Steele won the 400-meter hurdles with a 1:00.61 time ññ her season best and an NCAA-qualifying time.
“She’s really starting to gain confidence,” Wilson said. “She’s getting to the territory where she can run with almost anybody in the Big Ten.”
Rounding out the rest of the Gophers’ first-place finishers were Melissa Woltman in the 100-meter dash, Vanessa Nelson in the 100-meter hurdles and the 4×100-meter relay team of Woltman, Nelson, Kadian Douglas and Elizabeth Woolford.
“Going there is like going to the Mecca of track and field,” Wilson said. “Overall, it was a real nice competition.”