Rodgers corners the market on sprint wins

Jim Schortemeyer

One might think that Fred Rodgers’ nerves would be so shot from trying to outthink opposing quarterbacks that he wouldn’t be any good for the Minnesota track team.
Yet there was Rodgers on Saturday at the Minnesota Last Chance meet, winning his third consecutive 100-meter dash title.
There might be more victories in Rodgers’ corner too, if not for spring football practice. The defensive back/sprinter’s three wins have came in the only three weeks he has been out for track.
Although the wins have come at meets where Minnesota is not pushed to do its best, Rodgers still said he’s getting the necessary training for the Big Ten Championships next week.
“It’s weird because there can be nobody (of note) here, but somebody on my team can always come up and beat me,” Rodgers said.
But running track isn’t new to Rodgers. He ran track and played football in high school as well, so it was only natural Minnesota head coach Phil Lundin would help the football team in the recruiting process.
“I remember writing him a few letters when he was being recruited,” Lundin said.
The difference between football coach Glen Mason and Lundin is polar for Rodgers. He said the track focus is more on the individual.
“They’re totally opposite,” Rodgers said.
Rodgers ran on the track team last year, competing mainly on the 4×100-meter relay team. During the indoor season this year, he earned a second-place finish at the Big Ten Championships in the 55-meter dash.
Rodgers’ time of 10.55 seconds on Saturday was about as good as any other he’s had this season, but he was running into the wind. The 4×100 team Rodgers led off for ran a somewhat sloppy race, but managed to win easily. Rodgers knows he hasn’t achieved his potential for this season.
“My best race is to come,” Rodgers said.
Rodgers helped Minnesota win 16 of 20 contested events on Saturday. For many athletes, NCAA qualification standards and school records were the only competition in a field consisting mostly of Division III schools.
Pole vaulter Tye Harvey made his return to competition after badly spraining his ankle two weeks ago. His vault of 16 feet, 9 1/4 inches is nearly a foot below what he cleared at last month’s Drake Relays. Harvey’s mark in the special invitational pole vault later that day was 17-11. Both marks were good for NCAA provisional qualifications.
Fellow vaulter Vesa Rantanen matched Harvey’s mark of 17-11 in the regular competition, good for his best mark of the spring.
Scott Beadle shaved time off a school record, but not in his customary 400-meter race. Beadle tore off a 20.86 second run in the 200-meters to break a 16-year-old Minnesota outdoor record by more than 0.2 seconds.
The results from Saturday left Lundin feeling good, but not great, about his team’s chances at next weekend’s Big Ten Championships.
“What worries me is I feel a little more confident going in, even though looking at the results from this spring, I probably shouldn’t be,” Lundin said.