Rivalry jumps to the track

For the first time in 37 years, the border rivals will compete in a dual meet.

Grant Donald

Despite having one of the most spirited and well-known rivalries in the country, the Minnesota and Wisconsin track teams have not competedsolely against each other in 37 years.

That drought will soon come to an end when the two go head-to-head Saturday in a dual meet new to both programs.

“Obviously, Wisconsin is the biggest rival that we have in every sport, whether it’s collegiate or professional sports,” head coach Matt Bingle said. “There’s a lot of pride on the line. Since I’ve been here at the University of Minnesota, I’ve wanted to have a dual meet with Wisconsin, and we agreed upon it this year.”

According to Bingle, over the last few decades the two programs could never come to an agreement regarding an event like this.

Now, the Badgers have a new coach and a new attitude toward resolving the border battle on the track.

“I wasn’t aware that it was 20 years plus since we’ve had a dual meet with them, and obviously we’re very excited about this opportunity,” Wisconsin coach Mick Byrne said at a press conference Monday. “We won the coin toss, and we got to host a meet at home. We’re excited about that. And next year we go back up to Minnesota and do it on their turf.”

Saturday will also mark the first time this year that many of Minnesota’s athletes will compete against another team.

This weekend also presents an opportunity to get back into the competitive mindset early in the season.

“It will be really fun to see how we stack up early in the season,” redshirt junior Jess Herauf said. “I think we are all pretty confident going in, but it is always good to compete against someone other than your teammate.”

The meet will be scored differently than a normal meet. Bingle said only the top two athletes in each event will earn points for their school. Each event is limited to four athletes per school.

But beyond the points, the bitter rivalry has finally returned to the track, something redshirt junior Anne Ferguson said is long overdue.

“There is a part of me inside that always wants to beat someone from Wisconsin,” Ferguson. “I have a bunch of friends that go to school at Wisconsin, and they are always so prideful, and it is always fun to beat them.”

Admission to the event is free of charge, and Wisconsin’s athletics website is heavily promoting the event, which should make for a decent-sized crowd. Because of this, many of the Gophers are ready to go across the border and make a statement.

“You definitely want to race for the entire state of Minnesota and all the alumni,” Bingle said. “We definitely have some good athletes from Wisconsin, and we want to go in and stir the pot a little bit on them.”