Gophers find success in Texas

Grant Donald

Everything is bigger in Texas, and that includes the throws Minnesota athletes have put forth in the Lone Star State over the last two weeks.
Last weekend, women’s thrower Devin Stanford broke the program record in the hammer throw while competing at the Baylor Invitational.
 
This weekend, it was the men’s turn as the Gophers finished with three of the top four throws in the Texas Invitational weight throw competition.
 
“Our throwers really did a great job today of coming in and taking care of business,” head coach Steve Plasencia said. “They’ll be looking to carry this momentum with them for the rest of the season.”
 
Junior Gian Ferretti, who won the event with a toss of 66.17 meters, led the Gophers on the day.
 
Saturday’s title gave Ferretti his second championship of the young outdoor season, the first one also in the hammer throw.
 
“I really put the work in the offseason to try and improve my strength even more,” Ferretti said. “The goal is obviously to win as many titles as possible, but when I see so many Gophers near the top, like [Saturday], it doesn’t get much better than that.”
 
Ferretti’s title wasn’t the only one captured by the Gophers while in Texas. Junior Goaner Deng set a new personal best in the 800-meter dash, winning the event with a time of 1:49.36.
 
Deng also was part of the 4×400 meter relay team that took home the meet title.
 
“What’s important right now is that we are constantly growing as a team,” Plasencia said. “We have had some highly competitive meets to start the outdoor season. … It can only help us as we move forward.”
 
Women take three titles
 
Despite having less practice time and having to deal with less-than-ideal practice conditions compared to her competition, sophomore Nicolle Murphy was still able to take home the javelin title Saturday.
 
The javelin, which is not an event during the indoor season, is one of the hardest events to prepare for, head coach Matt Bingle said.
 
“The athletes down south definitely have the advantage since they can compete year round in the [javelin],” Bingle said. “Nicolle is someone who we are hoping will produce for us over the years to come, too.”
 
The throwing titles didn’t stop there, however, as freshman Agnes Esser won the discus with a career-best throw of 53.66 meters.
 
“Agnes is not afraid of the big stage,” Bingle said. “She’s learning a lot from Stanford, and hopefully, that guidance will help her in the long 
run.”
 
Minnesota’s third title came in the 3,000-meter steeple chase as redshirt sophomore Jamie Piepenburg finished in a time of 10:42.06.
 
“I was very pleased with the way our girls competed today,” Bingle said. “Whenever you can bring titles back to Minneapolis, it’s a good 
day.”