Men’s track team tunes for Drake

Monica Wright

Setting a school record and earning three first-place finishes, the Gophers men’s track team dominated the Arizona Elite meet and proved they are ready for the Drake Relays next weekend.
“I think things are starting to develop and gel for us,” coach Phil Lundin said. “We’ve got a long way to go before Big Tens but our guys did very well.”
Freshman Chris Dixon and sophomore Toby Henkels began the meet by taking first place in the triple jump and 800-meter run, respectively.
Junior Mark Fahey kept the streak up by setting a school record in the hammer throw with a first place toss of 189 feet.
The old record, set just last year by teammate Ben Meyer, was beaten by just over 13 feet. Fahey also placed second in the discus competition.
The Gophers clearly had command of the 1500. Sophomore Andrew McKessock took first and senior Nate Clay placed second.
The race, which included several All-Americans, an NCAA qualifier and a runner for team Nike, saw McKessock fall four-tenths of a second shy of an automatic NCAA qualifying time.
“It was a great race, Nate and I went down there and we felt good,” McKessock said. “I’m not too concerned about qualifying for NCAAs because I know I can do it. This race just got me excited to run at Stanford in two weeks.”
Other notable top 10 finishes were sophomore Adam Freed’s third place in the 100 and sophomore Jayme Pantekoek’s fourth place in the 110 hurdles.
Despite the impressive performance, because the meet is an invitational and not an NCAA meet there are no points awarded to the events or team placements, which Lundin likes.
“Conference meets are the only time we’re concerned with racking up points,” Lundin said. “We’d get hurt if we pushed too hard for points, and the competition is better at invitationals. In team sports every game is paramount but with track we’re evaluated on our conference finish.”
A key meet in preparing for a top conference placement are the Drake Relays, up next for the Gophers in Des Moines.
Lundin believes the positive results at the Arizona Elite serves to bolster the team’s confidence for the first-class competition at Drake.
“At Drake we’ve got chacnes to do well in a number of relays and individual events so we’re looking forward to that competition.”

Monica Wright covers track and field and welcomes comments at [email protected]