U women poised for late surge

Jim Schortemeyer

Minnesota women’s track and field head coach Gary Wilson is known for shouting, “Loistava!” to his athletes after their events.
That term, Finnish for “excellent,” was used often by Wilson during Saturday’s Minnesota Open at the Bierman Track and Field Stadium.
Wilson had good reasons for his excitement. In the field events, the point-scoring anchor for the women, Minnesota posted several record-setting performances, and the Gophers looked better in the running events than they have all spring.
Minna Haronoja dropped three seconds off her personal best in the 1,500-meters, with her time of 4:27.15.
Haronoja was evidently tired at the end of the run. She fell to the track several paces past the finish line, and took a short rest before getting up. The break was justified; her time ranks in fifth place all-time in that event for the Gophers.
“Her goal at the beginning of the year was to go 4:28 at the end of the year,” Wilson said. “She’s ready to go even faster than that.”
Not to be outdone, Nicole Chimko had two NCAA qualifying marks in her three throwing events. Chimko’s efforts in the javelin and discus earned the qualifications, and were the fourth- and fifth-best, respectively, in Gophers history. Chimko said she thinks she can still throw farther, because her spring has been hampered by injuries and bad weather.
The other throwers weren’t exactly nodding off while Chimko did all the work. Aubrey Schmitt provided the third-best shot put effort in Minnesota history, while Angie Hill provided the best mark this year in the hammer throw.
Throwing coach Lynne Anderson was pleased with her young throwers, none of whom are beyond their sophomore year.
“With as young as they are, we’re expecting an awful lot of them,” Anderson said. “They’re now at the level physically where we can expect them to throw well and they do it.”
In the short-distance events, Yvette White was golden. White ran four races of 400 meters or less and managed one win and two second-place finishes. She is the lone runner on Minnesota’s team who finished in the top three at last year’s Big Ten Championships.
Christine Gulbrandson was the lone Gopher to place in the top two of any jumping event. She won the pole vault by six inches with her vault of 10 feet, 6 inches.
Minnesota does not expect to contend for the Big Ten Championships. Wilson admitted last week that placing in the top three at the Big Ten Championships is highly unlikely, but he won’t rule out a good finish.
“We went into the indoor meet thinking Oh, my Lord,'” Wilson said. “And we ended up, if there is such a thing, in a strong seventh. This team, if everything goes right, we could maybe sneak into an upper-division finish.”