Track team looking beyond Big Tens

Matthew Cross

Gophers women’s track and field coach Gary Wilson feels no need for optimism about this weekend’s Big Ten Indoor championships.
He knows it’s going to be ugly.
“We’re going to be ninth or 10th this weekend,” Wilson said. “There’s just too many holes and too many kids redshirting.”
Among the key redshirting athletes are thrower Dani Parkos and sprinter Kim Martin. Andrea Grove, a senior middle distance runner, has eligibility remaining only for the upcoming outdoor season. She redshirted the outdoor season earlier in her career.
Those athletes have provided many team points in the past.
Minnesota has so many holes that it will not have anybody competing in the 55-meter dash, the 200 or the long jump.
Wilson is merely hoping to see individual improvement this weekend from a few runners starting with the freshmen, particularly sprinters Yvette White and Aposha Blocker.
Both athletes are expected to do well in the outdoor season, but Wilson would like to see both of them keep steadily improving.
Despite the team’s low expectations indoors, Wilson said he still expects to finish in the top half of the conference during the outdoor championships.
Wilson typically gives scholarships to athletes who compete in outdoor events like the javelin and discus, whereas most Big Ten schools don’t. This gives Minnesota the edge in the outdoor season.
Last year, the Gophers placed seventh in the indoor championships and third outdoors. And in 1993, the team finished last indoors and fourth outdoors.
Wilson hopes to clean house in the javelin and discus during the outdoor season, and with Grove competing he sees a chance to finish fourth or fifth as a team this spring.
Also, the Gophers have 10 available scholarships for next year, which Wilson said will be an opportunity to build a solid foundation for the future.
In fact, Wilson said Minnesota could be a contender for the conference title in the near future.
“In the next one or two years, we could win a Big Ten championship,” Wilson said. “We have the right attitude, we just have to keep … from getting frustrated.”