Men’s track finishes with a flourish

by Brian Hall

DES MOINES, Iowa – Early Saturday morning Minnesota hammer thrower Lynden Reder pulled off his sweatshirt and stepped toward the throwing circle mumbling.

Reder, who considers himself a student of the event, was pondering how to overcome his latest challenge, throwing from a pool of water.

The throwing circle at the Drake Relays was a puddle as rain, wind and cold temperatures hit Des Moines, Iowa, over the weekend, making things difficult for the Gophers track and field team.

“It’s a little bit dangerous,” Reder said. “These are not ideal conditions, but you just try and do your best. It is rainy and cold for everybody here.”

Minnesota crawled out to a slow and somewhat disappointing start to the weekend before rallying at the end with three respectable finishes.

The Gophers earned three top-four finishes in their last three events, a streak started with a fourth-place showing by senior Toby Henkels in the 800-meter run.

The team’s performance was highlighted by a win in the 1,500-meter run by junior Andrew McKessock. McKessock used a strong finish with a time of 3:48.26 to earn the victory.

“I came in thinking I had the chance to win,” McKessock said. “It was pretty tough. You notice the wind and the cold, but it’s your job to keep going. It’s nice to get my first Drake title.”

The 4×400-meter relay team capped off the weekend finishing in second place.

Coach Phil Lundin said the 4×800-meter relay team of Ryan Ford, Zach Edmondson, McKessock and Henkels entered the meet with the thought of winning, but had to settle for third.

With times and distances affected by the weather, Lundin was looking for solid efforts.

“(McKessock’s win) is a sure way to turn things around,” Lundin said. “I just want to see people competing. We weren’t always doing that earlier.

“Things have been tough with the weather and the recent travel schedule.”

Senior Bob Quade filled in for an injured Mitch Potter during the 4×400-meter relay.

Potter, a five-time All-American, suffering from a broken bone in his foot, is expected to miss the remainder of the outdoor season. Potter will undergo surgery this week.

Despite missing Potter, the team of Mikael Jakobsson, Quade, Andy Wohlin and Andy Steele won its preliminary heat and in the final held off a pursuing Southwest Missouri State team for a second-place finish.

“This is a great team to be on,” Quade said. “You don’t want to lose a guy like Mitch. He is so talented. But, I just try and go in there and give it hell.

“Some of the results have been unfortunate. The whole team has been working really hard.”

After naming Drake as a benchmark for his team’s season earlier in the year, Lundin chose not to dwell on the negative aspects of the meet. As the meet drew to a close he turned his focus to the future and the Big Ten championships next month.

“With the circumstances you can write this off as a bad weekend,” Lundin said. “But they need to start competing. We are few weeks out from the conference meet. It is still enough time to get set if you prepare properly. That has to begin now.”

Brian Hall covers track and field and
welcomes comments at [email protected]