Track and field men win regional

Minnesota junior Mitch Potter ran the second-fastest time in the world this season in the 400-meter dash, topping the impressive list of performances by Minnesota’s men’s track and field team at the NCAA Midwest Regional on Saturday. The Gophers captured the team title in the event with 65.50 points, but more importantly qualified nine athletes in 10 events for the NCAA Championships on June 11-14 in Sacramento, Calif.

Potter posted a time of 44.93 seconds to win the 400-meter final in a photo-finish, edging Baylor’s Darold Williamson (44.95) by two-hundredth of a second. The only faster time in the world this season was a time of 44.83 ran by former LSU sprinter Derrick Brew on May 3 in Mexico City.

“To run the second-fastest time in the world this season is pretty impressive,” coach Phil Lundin said in a release. “Mitch’s ability to fight is unsurpassed, he’s so tough. It was a delight to watch.”

Mikael Jakobsson joined Potter as a Midwest Regional champion in an individual event. Jakobsson won the 400-meter hurdles with a season-best time of 49.86.

Martin Robeck cut nearly five seconds of his career-best time in the 1,500-meter run, placing second with a time of 4:42.88.

Other Gophers advancing to the NCAA Championships with top-five finishes at the Midwest Regional on Saturday were Karl Erickson in the shot put (third, 60 feet, 1.75 inches), Adam Steele in the 400-meters (fourth, 45.57), Trent Riter in the 800-meters (fourth, 1:48.86), and the 4×400-meter relay of Steele, Andy Wohlin, Jakobsson and Potter (third, 3:04.66).

Meanwhile, Hammer thrower Lynden Reder and high jumper Kevin Netzer secured berths in the NCAA championships.

Reder, a junior from Luverne, Minn., earned his first trip to the NCAA championships with a fourth-place finish in the hammer with a toss of 197 feet, 10 inches. Reder landed his top throw in the second attempt of his series. Winning the event was Texas El-Paso’s Janne Vartia with a heave of 216-10.

A sophomore from Rib Lake, Wis., Netzer collected his ticket to the NCAA Championships with a fifth-place showing in the high jump, clearing a height of 6 feet, 11.75 inches. Nebraska’s Kyle Odvody won with a height of 7 feet, 2.25 inches.

Marks makes NCAAs

Minnesota women’s track and field senior Shani Marks placed third in the triple jump at the NCAA Midwest Regional in Lincoln, Neb., on Saturday, earning the Big Ten triple jump champion a berth to the NCAA championships. Marks, the only Gopher to advance to the NCAAs, placed third in the event with a leap of 44 feet, 4.75 inches.

Several other Gophers competed on Saturday. The 4×400-meter relay cut over a second off the school record in placing ninth with a time of three minutes, 38.59 seconds. The relay was comprised of Lisa Mickelson, Marks, Rachel Schutz and Kou Luogon. Saree Zweifel placed 12th in the triple jump with a distance of 38 feet, 11.5 inches, while Luogon placed 20th with an effort of 38 feet, 2 inches. Jessica Stephan and Nicole Kopari competed in the discus with Stephan placing 22nd with a throw of 140-0 and Kopari 29th with a throw of 122 feet, 7 inches.