Despite limited practice outdoors, Gophers set for N.C.

Lou Raguse

The Texas Southern University Relays on March 21 was just a taste of warm weather for Minnesota’s women’s track and field team.

Now, heading to Durham, N.C., for the Duke Invitational today, the Gophers will get another bite.

Maybe when they return to Minnesota, they will be greeted by spring-like outdoor practice conditions.

“We’re sick of being in here,” senior Rachel Schutz said of practicing in the University’s Field House.

The Duke Invitational – the second meet of the outdoor season – gives the women a chance to compete against tough competition.

“Every ability from national champions to the kids who can’t hardly finish a race will be at this meet,” coach Gary Wilson said. “It’s a good mix because it gives all of our kids a chance to run in an area that’s going to be the right race for them.”

Wilson is sending nearly the whole team to the Duke Invitational, except the throwers.

The Gophers sprinters and middistances runners are looking forward to breaking out this weekend, as the distance runners did at the TSU Relays, where they swept the top five places in the 1,500-meter run.

But for the distance runners, practicing outside in chilly air is natural; most of them are also on the cross country team.

The sprinters and middistance runners said they are growing weary of the confines of the Field House.

“The corners make a difference,” said senior Rachel Kuhn, who is preparing for the 3,200-meter relay. “It seems like you’re running twice as long doing so many laps.”

Kuhn said they are hoping to break a team record in the 3,200 relay at the Drake Relays on April 22-23 and will work toward that feat this weekend.

Gophers assistant coach Matt Bingle said he is also anxious to see Melissa Steele in the 200-meter dash and 400-meter hurdles, Zoe Nagell in the steeplechase and Monica Stearns in the pole vault this weekend.

Bingle said he hopes some of the success from the TSU Relays will carry into the Duke Invitational.

“We competed very, very well – it was exciting to see,” Bingle said. “We’re still working on what we need to work on, but we’re looking for a strong mental effort.”

Men’s track and field

Lynden Reder placed fifth in the hammer throw at the 77th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays, hosted by the University of Texas in Austin, Texas.

Reder threw a 62.67, while Manhattan College’s Thomas Freeman posted a 67.91 mark to win the event.

The Gophers continue action at the Texas Relays through the weekend, concluding Saturday.