U men’s track eyes a top three finish

by Allison Younge

The Gophers men’s track and field team will rely on field event specialists to anchor its scoring at the Big Ten championships in Champaign, Ill., this weekend.
“The field events are going to have to come through big, that’s where our strength lies,” Coach Phil Lundin said. “If we wish to finish in the top three, people are going to have to step forward.”
Even though Minnesota finished second at last year’s outdoor conference meet, Lundin feels that a third-place finish isn’t undermining the talent of the Gophers this season.
“I think our team is stronger overall than last year, but the conference is so much tougher,” Lundin said. “We’re going to have to have a darn good meet to achieve what we did last year, but we’re capable.”
Wisconsin returns as the conference favorite after winning the Big Ten title last year. Illinois and Michigan are also predicted to be conference leaders.
“Wisconsin is the favorite, and Michigan has a lot of weapons,” Lundin said. “Illinois will be also be tough mentally because it is a home meet for them.”
Twenty-eight is the maximum number of competitors that each team can enter into the three-day meet. Twenty-seven Gophers are set to compete, several in multiple events.
A few Minnesota athletes will return to the track after dealing with nagging injuries throughout the regular outdoor season. Senior sprinter Tim Van Voorhis is one of several Gophers who will compete after taking time off to rest. Lundin is excited to have a full lineup back for Big Tens.
“We’re going to just duct tape them up and throw them in,” Lundin said. “At least they’ll be well rested and feel good. The hay is in the barn, they’re rested and ready to go.
“You always go in with the idea to win it, but shooting for the top three is a realistic goal.”
The Big Tens begin Friday, and it’s vital that the Gophers enter the meet prepared. Lundin expects the team’s throwers, jumpers and pole vaulters to lead the way.
“It’s going to be a much more evenly spread Big Ten meet than last year,” Lundin said. “It’s going to be a dogfight.”