Wind helps throwers dominate at Baylor

Minnesota's Luca Wieland competes in hurdles on Jan. 18, 2014, at the University Field House.

Daily File Photo, Patrcia Grover

Minnesota’s Luca Wieland competes in hurdles on Jan. 18, 2014, at the University Field House.

Grant Donald

Thrower Devin Stanford couldn’t help but smile Friday.
 
Though wind gusts climbed to nearly 30 miles per hour in Waco, Texas, for the Baylor Invite, Stanford and the rest of Minnesota’s throwers knew they needed to get the powerful wind behind their throws.
 
That potential quickly turned into reality. Three Gophers finished in the top five for the discus, with freshman Agnes Esser taking home the title and Stanford placing second.
 
“You try and plan the best you can [for the wind], but you can’t predict everything,” head coach Matt Bingle said. “[The discus throwers] did a great job executing the wind correctly, and it showed in their results.”
 
Stanford’s success didn’t end with the discus, either, as the veteran broke Minnesota’s program record in the hammer throw with a 61.76-meter throw.
 
Even though the toss was only good enough for third place, Stanford accomplished a goal that wasn’t a possibility until the end of last year.
 
“Last year, at the national meet, I was pretty close to [the program record], so this year me and my coaches decided to make breaking the record one of my goals,” Stanford said. “I would have never guessed during my sophomore or freshman year that this could be a possibility.”
 
While the throwers embraced the wind, the situation was different for the runners — their times took a hit because of the weather. 
 
But Minnesota’s track athletes still put together solid performances, highlighted by a title in the 4×400-meter relay and freshman Emma Spagnola’s second place finish in both the 100- and 400-meter hurdles.
 
“With Emma [during the 100-meter hurdles], the wind was so bad at her back that she was crunching every hurdle and almost hit every one of them,” Bingle said. “She did a good job of dealing with the situation while still putting up a good performance.”
 
Wieland continues top form 
 
Fresh off of his NCAA indoor heptathlon title last month, sophomore Luca Wieland made his outdoor season debut at the Stanford Invitational on Friday.
 
Head coach Steve Plasencia said he decided to keep Wieland out of the team’s last meet in Arizona to give him more time to rest. 
 
And the extra week off seemed to pay off; Wieland finished third in the long jump with a jump of 7.49-meters.
 
“Luca false-started in the 110-meter hurdles, and he told me that was the first time he had ever done that, so he was pretty disappointed with himself,” Plasencia said. “It was good to see him bounce back in the long jump and put the hurdles behind him.”
 
Redshirt freshman Brad Neumann also had to recover from a disappointing start to the meet.
 
After failing to qualify for the 100-meter dash finals by one spot, 
 
Neumann finished second in the 200-meter dash — though he was in the third heat.
 
“Brad has really shown good poise at times for a freshman, and sometimes a disappointing performance will spark a great one,” Plasencia said. “He wasn’t in the first or even the second heat, so to finish second overall … he really over-performed what the Stanford people thought he could do.”