Men’s 4×400 relay enjoys breakout performance

Ben Goessling

On one of the biggest stages in college track and field, Minnesota’s men’s 4×400-meter relay team might finally have made the statement it has been looking for over the last three years.

Minnesota’s team of Mikael Jakobsson, Andy Wohlin, Adam Steele and Mitch Potter won the Cleburne Price Jr. 4×400-meter relay at the Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays in Austin, Texas.

The quartet clocked a NCAA regional qualifying time of 3:04.92, thumping NCAA indoor champion Louisiana State by more than a second and scoring one of its biggest wins since its first appearance in the NCAA championships in 2001.

“When you come to the Texas Relays, it’s all about the sprints,” said assistant coach Mario Sategna. “For us to win the last event of the meet was huge. It opened the eyes of a lot of schools.”

Sophomore Karl Erickson took second place in the shot put.

The meet, which was held for the 76th time in front of nearly 25,000 fans, showcased Olympic sprinters Jon Drummond, Ato Bolden and Maurice Greene – the former world record-holder in the 100-meter dash.

“For a lot of these guys, it’s their first time competing on a stage like this,” Sategna said. “We saw a lot of the schools that will be in our region, and the big thing for us was to mix it up with those guys. We won’t be in awe of what they’re about.”

Women’s track and field

Competing at the Duke Invitational over the weekend, Minnesota’s women’s track and field team scored a pair of NCAA regional qualifiers and a handful of impressive performances.

Senior Shani Marks finished third in the 400-meter hurdles and junior Monica Stearns placed fifth in the pole vault. Both established NCAA regional qualifying marks.

“With Marks and Stearns both qualifying, it was a pretty good meet for us,” coach Gary Wilson said. “Our quarter-milers were solid, and overall we had a lot of bright spots.”

Triple-jumping for the first time in college, freshman Kou Luogon took third in the event with a mark of 39-5.

Baseball sweeps Michigan

After two days of cancelled games, Minnesota’s baseball team played a doubleheader Sunday, taking both games from Michigan at Ray Fisher Stadium.

After winning the first game of the twin bill 9-3, the Gophers won their seventh straight game in Ann Arbor 8-7, needing an extra inning to notch the victory. Minnesota last lost at Michigan on April 11, 1998.

With the two-game sweep, the Gophers (16-10, 6-0 Big Ten) have won seven straight games – six in the conference – and are off to their best Big Ten start in a decade. Minnesota went 11-0 to begin its conference slate in 1993.

“We always talk about defense and how important it is,” coach John Anderson said. “That’s been our one constant. It’s not so much the errors, but the plays you make on defense – the balls you get to – so other people don’t come to the plate.”

In the first contest, redshirt freshman Glen Perkins picked up the win to improve his record to 3-1 on the year. Perkins threw a complete game, allowing three runs on seven hits while striking out six.

On the scoreboard, the Gophers and Wolverines (11-12, 3-3) were even after four innings, but Minnesota exploded for seven runs in the fifth to take an 8-1 advantage.

Third baseman David Hrncirik led the charge for Minnesota, going 2-for-4 with three RBIs. In addition, Welch went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and a RBI.

In the second game, senior C.J. Woodrow struggled for the Gophers, allowing six runs on 12 hits in three and one-third innings.

After Brian Bull pitched two and a third innings of relief, junior Jeff Moen came out of the bullpen to pitch the final two and one-third innings and struck out four to earn his first victory of the season.

Minnesota jumped ahead early, scoring two runs in the top of the first. The Gophers went up 4-2 by the end of the third, but Michigan’s four-run fourth gave the Wolverines a two run advantage.

Minnesota tied the game up in the fifth, and both teams added another run in the sixth to keep the score knotted. After a scoreless seventh, senior Ben Pattee hit a RBI double, scoring center fielder Sam Steidl from first base.

Moen held the Wolverines scoreless in the bottom of the eighth to seal the Gophers’ come-from-behind win.

Women’s golf

Minnesota’s women’s golf team battled inclimate weather and tough competition to finish eighth out of 11 teams at the Indiana Invitational in Bloomington over the weekend.

The Gophers shot a final round of 26-over-par 322 Sunday and finished 51 strokes back of tournament champion Purdue.

Playing in temperatures diving below freezing was in stark contrast to the conditions at Minnesota’s first three tournaments this spring, all played in either Florida or Hawaii.

Senior Karyn Stordahl shot an even-par 74 in Saturday’s second round and finished in a tie for 18th place at +15 to lead the Gophers. Fellow senior Kirstin Whalen finished one stroke behind at +16.

Sophomore Terra Petsinger and freshman Sarah Butler both carded their best rounds of the tournament Sunday and finished 32nd and 40th, respectively.

Minnesota finished fifth out of six Big Ten teams in the field and will take next weekend off before competing at the Lady Buckeye Spring Classic in Columbus, Ohio, April 19-20.

Softball

Junior pitcher Piper Marten struck out 13 in a 1-0 game-one win and Minnesota scored seven runs in the sixth inning in a comeback 8-2 game-two victory as the Gopher softball team swept Purdue on Sunday in a doubleheader at West Lafayette, Ind. With the sweep, the Gophers moved to 24-10-1 overall and 4-2 in the Big Ten.

“It’s been awhile since we’ve come in and taken care of business,” co-coach Julie Standering said. “We had that strong third day that we strive for.”

The Gophers open their 2003 home schedule with doubleheaders Tuesday against Wisconsin-Green Bay at 4 p.m., and Wednesday versus Concordia-St. Paul at 4 p.m.