Willis continues early outdoor reign at Arkansas Invitational

Todea-Kay Willis won both the long jump and 4×100 relay for the second time.

Megan Ryan


The Gophers women’s track team competed in the Arkansas Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark., over the weekend, but no team scores were kept.

Todea-Kay Willis repeated as a multi-event champion. She won the long jump and the 4×100 meter relay, which she also championed two weeks ago at the first outdoor meet of the season, the Aztec Invitational in San Diego.

Willis’ winning jump was 6.13 meters, a marked improvement from her first meet jump of 5.87 meters.

The 4×100 relay team of Willis, Nyoka Giles, Chimerem Okoroji and Kylie Peterson also improved since the season’s first meet. It ran 45.22 seconds compared to 46.03 in San Diego.

“I think we gel pretty well; considering all of us who are on the team right now, we came in together, and we’ve been here at Minnesota for a long time,” Willis said.

Willis also competed in the triple jump for the first time this season. She placed ninth with a distance of 11.87 meters.

Although team scores were not kept, a handful of Gophers broke the top-three in their respective events.

Okoroji claimed the 100-meter dash at 11.62 seconds. She was running it for the first time this season after missing out when rain ended the Aztec Invitational early.

“It was great to just kind of get out all the jitters,” Okoroji said. “It was good just to see where we are … It was a good starting block, and now we can definitely start building off of that.”

Okoroji also managed a fifth place finish in the 200.

Laura Docherty and Ashlie Decker took first and second, respectively, in the 3,000 with times of 9:44.08 and 9:56.32, respectively. Paige Orcutt also claimed the title in the 3,000 steeplechase at 10:58.82.

Nicole Murphey took third in the long jump. Megan Geyen placed second in the 400. Lauren Domski took third in the 800. Molly Kayfes finished third as well in the 1,500.

Sharyn Dahl ran to third place in the 400 hurdles. She was also a part of the second-place 4×400 relay team that included Geyen, Giles and Jessica Waldvogel.

“It was good to kind of be our first real meet for the year,” head coach Matt Bingle said. “I thought they did a good job and competed well.

“There are lots of things to improve on for everybody, and that’s a good thing,” Bingle added. “Because lots of people competed well today and ultimately continue to develop and get better with more reps from more meets.”

Men’s throwers struggle in quality early-season field

Throwers from the men’s team competed at the Texas Relays in Austin, Texas.

Quentin Mege took fourth in the hammer throw with a throw of 62.17 meters. Teammate Jon Lehman followed in 14th.

Trey Davis finished 10th in the “A” final of the shot put.

Freshman Dominique Howard placed first in the “B” final of the discus throw. Davis and Justin Barber placed 11th and 13th, respectively.

Howard’s personal record distance of 55.34 meters would have been good for 11th place in the “A” final.

“It’s one of the more competitive major competitions in the country on any given year, and it’s pretty early to have that major of a meet,” assistant coach Lynden Reder said. Reder works with the throwers on the men’s track and field team.

“We’ll come back down [to Texas] for the first round of the NCAA championships,” Reder added. “They’ll be more ready having taken their lumps now when they come down here in June.”