Mead on the heat sheets

by Derek Wetmore

It’s been a long road for Hassan Mead just to get back to the track. That journey might be coming to a close Saturday while giving way to a new journey — a quest for Minnesota’s fifth-straight Big Ten team championship.

Mead sat out the cross country season this fall while nursing an Achilles injury that also caused him to miss last indoor and outdoor track seasons. Compounding those complications was a collapsed lung he suffered that the team has said was completely random.

The six-time All-American actually made his unofficial return to the track several weeks ago, when he rabbited the 3,000-meter race at the Fieldhouse in the Jack Johnson Classic.

It was unofficial because Mead was not in uniform, he competed unattached and thus was not listed in the heat sheets. His score, had he finished the race, would not have counted towards Minnesota’s team score.

Now, however, it’s getting to the time in the season where track and field athletes start searching for NCAA automatic qualifier marks. Mead is listed in the heat sheets for the Washington Husky Open — a traditionally fast meet — where Head Coach Steve Plasencia has taken several athletes in search of those automatic qualifier times. Plasencia said last week that the Husky Open is almost always a very fast meet, which is beneficial because it pushes runners to better times and increases the likelihood of receiving an automatic qualifier.

The team has been rather mum on his status (even prior to this meet), and understandably so because of the buzz created just by uttering his name could prove to be a big distraction for a team looking for its fifth straight Big Ten title, and third straight indoor title. Plasencia also does not want to put added pressure on Mead who has already been through quite a frustrating battle.

The rest of the team is in Iowa State competing at the Iowa State Classic, with the exception of a few high jumpers who will compete in the UW-River Falls Brooks Classic.