Gophers middle-distance runner and Minnesota mile record holder Ben Blankenship earned a silver medal at the NACAC Under-23 championships. Blankenship clocked in at 3 minutes, 45.43 seconds in the 1,500-meter run on Saturday, good for second place. Blankenship was named to team USA’s roster on July 2.
The NACAC Athletic Associations hold the U23 championships every other year in one of the member nations in North America, Central America and the Carribean Athletic Association. This year’s championships are being held in Miramar, Fla. Gophers All-American thrower Aaron Studt will compete in the shotput Sunday, the final day of competition. Studt is a fifth-year senior, and will have one season of outdoor track eligibility remaining, after sitting out the 2010 outdoor season.
Blankenship had a difficult go at his second consecutive NCAA outdoor championships – failing to qualify for the final event out of the preliminary round in the 1,500 – but was instrumental in helping the men defend their indoor title in February. Elite distance runner Chris Rombough will be leaving, but Blankenship enters his senior year as one of the leaders of this young, talented team. Blankenship won’t have to bear all the distance running burden for the Gophers though, as the team is expecting superstar Hassan Mead to return after missing the entire indoor and outdoor seasons in 2009-10.