Gophers excel in outdoor opener

The women’s team competed in Alabama and the men in Arizona.

Grant Donald

While their classmates were spending spring break in places like Florida or Mexico, the women’s track team spent the week training and competing in Alabama.

In between bowling parties and laser tag matches, the team participated in a dual meet against South Alabama in the first outdoor meet of the season.

“When you are in Minnesota, all you can do is run indoors, so it was nice to get some practice in the elements that we are going to be competing in moving forward,” head coach Matt Bingle said. “The wind has a significant effect, especially on throwers, so this week was critical to get used to that.”

The team walked away from the dual with 13 titles against an inferior South Alabama team.

According to Bingle, the titles came secondary to the experience gained.

“Obviously we came down here to win our events and set personal records,” Bingle said. “But really, I just wanted to get a good week’s work in and really shift our focus to the outdoor season.”

After bursting onto the collegiate track scene during the indoor season, freshman Emma Spagnola continued her success outdoors by winning the 100- and 400-meter hurdles.

She wasn’t the only Minnesota freshman to impress during their first outdoor meet — Agnes Esser took home the discus title, and Heta Tuuri won the high jump.

“Emma was ranked fifth nationally in the 400 hurdles while in high school, so it was nice for her to run her main race and set a benchmark to work off of,” Bingle said. “[Senior] Devin Stanford also had a great throw in the hammer throw, which impressed me.”

 

Gophers take third at the Baldy Castillo Invitational

The men’s track and field team also took advantage of the week off of school by spending the week in Arizona, capped off by a third place finish at the Baldy Castillo Invitational.

The Gophers finished behind Texas A&M and host school Arizona State in the standings, but they were able to beat out those schools and everyone else in two events.

Junior Gian Ferretti took home the title in the hammer throw, breaking the Gophers’ program record in the process with a throw of 68.94 meters.

“I don’t think Gian could have asked for a better start to the outdoor season with setting a program record and putting his name up there with the best throwers in the nation,” head coach Steve Plasencia said.

Sophomore Bradley Johnson also left Arizona with a title, squeaking out a victory in the 800-meter run, beating the next runner by 0.09 seconds.

“Brad finished up the indoor season strong, so I was glad to see his success carrying over to the outdoor season,” Plasencia said. “Each year this meet is very competitive, and I believe we set a solid base for moving forward with the rest of our season.”