A successful NCAA Regional lands 10 Gophers vying for a national title

Six from the women’s team and four from the men’s team will represent the maroon and gold in Sacramento.

by Nick Gerhardt

Minnesota’s track and field teams advanced 10 athletes to compete at the NCAA Championships after strong performances at the Midwest Regional meet last weekend in Des Moines, Iowa.

The top five finishers in each event moved on in hopes of earning a NCAA title in Sacramento, Calif., on June 6 through 9.

The men’s team once again received outstanding performances from Derek Gearman, Adam Schnaible and Aaron Buzard, three strongholds on the squad’s roster.

Gearman placed in three jumping events. He captured his NCAA berth in the triple jump by finishing fourth with a jump of 51 feet, 8 1/4 inches – his best of the season.

He will be making his second trip to the NCAA Championships.

Schnaible received his first NCAA bid in the shot put by finishing third in the event with a throw of 57 feet, 8 1/2 inches.

Buzard finished seventh in the 400-meter event with a time of 46.70. His efforts will land him an at-large bid in Sacramento.

Senior Antonio Vega will also make the trip to compete in the 10,000-meter run. Despite being an All-American and a four-time all-region performer, this is Vega’s first trip to the NCAA Championships.

“It was great to see those guys come out with great performances,” coach Phil Lundin said.

The Gophers as a team didn’t finish the weekend with similar results. They finished tied for 16th with 19 points in Des Moines.

“You hope for better results in the Midwest Regional,” Lundin said. “A lot of guys gave workman-like performances, but we’re looking forward to sending three or four guys to the NCAAs.”

Women’s Track

Minnesota will send six members of the women’s track team to NCAA national competition after the Midwest Regional meet.

“We had a lot of good things happen and I’m really excited for the girls who are moving on,” coach Matt Bingle said. “I think they’re really excited about it as well.”

Sophomore Heather Dorniden won the 800-meter race with a time of 2:02.03. The time ranks as the second fastest in the nation and set a record for the Midwest Regional.

Senior Emily Brown earned a return trip to the NCAAs with a second place finish in the 3000-meter steeplechase. Her time of 10:08.22 broke the previous Midwest Regional mark, but first place finisher Jennifer Barringer destroyed the record by 28 seconds with a time of 9:44.31.

Fellow senior Liz Alabi received her invitation to the NCAA Championships in the hammer throw with a toss of 199 feet, one inch.

Junior Liz Podominick responded well after a shaky performance in the Big Ten Championships. She took home fifth place in the discus toss and packed her bags for Sacramento with a throw of 169 feet, one inch.

Freshman Alicia Rue received an at-large bid to compete at the championship in the pole vault.

“They will have to step up to the next level because nationals are so highly competitive,” Bingle said.

Five of the Gophers are making a return trip and have learned to deal with the pressure of competing for a national title.

“You have to treat it like a regular meet,” Alabi said. “Try to have as much fun as possible, otherwise you’ll get nervous.”