Plasencia named Midwest Region Coach of the Year, 7 Gophers to NCAAs

Derek Wetmore

After being named Big Ten Coach of the Year for winning the indoor Big Ten championships, men’s head coach Steve Plasencia has one upped himself and was named Midwest Region Coach of the Year on Monday. The US Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (or USTFCCCA for the acronym lovers) selected Plasencia the coach of the year for Minnesota’s region after his team won its fifth straight Big Ten championship.

Plasencia will be honored at this weekend’s NCAA indoor championships in Texas. Six Gophers athletes will accompany him on the journey and compete in the championships.

Micah Hegerle (weight throw), Ben Peterson (pole vault), Harun Abda (800 meters), Ben Blankenship (3,000 meter), and the distance medley relay team (Blankenship, Abda, Travis Burkstrand and Nick Hutton) are all set to compete. Hegerle is the highest seed of the group, and is pre-ranked third in the nation after breaking the school record in the weight throw.

Pole Vaulter Samantha Sonnenberg will be the lone representative for the women’s team. Sonneneberg did not make the automatic qualifier height, but was selected as an at-large bid Monday.