‘Objectives met’ in Drake Relay warm-up meet

Minnesota’s men’s track and field team cruised to first place at the Carleton Relays on Saturday on the heels of 10 individual wins.

But more importantly than winning the Division III meet, the Gophers got a chance to tune up for the Drake Relays without having to book a flight.

“The objectives were met, and people had an opportunity to compete after a hard week of training,” coach Phil Lundin said. “And everyone got to sleep in their own beds at night – I think everyone appreciated that.”

Senior Mitch Potter, competing in his first outdoor meet of the season, won the 200-meter dash with a time of 21.35.

Karl Erickson continued his standout throwing season by winning the shot put and discus, and senior Mikael Jakobsson posted an NCAA-qualifying mark in the 400-meter hurdles.

“It was a good competition for what our needs were,” Lundin said. “But we’ll have to see what happens at Drake and down the line.”

Last Thursday evening, Lundin talked on the phone to an out-of-breath Travis Brandstatter, who had just finished the decathlon competition at the Mt. SAC Relays in Walnut, Calif.

Brandstatter finished third in the decathlon and earned an automatic qualification for the NCAA Regionals with a score of 7,677 – second-best in Minnesota history.

“He was exhilarated,” Lundin said. “That’s a fantastic performance on his part. Any time you get an automatic qualifier in an NCAA Division I setting, that’s an exceptional performance.”

Lundin said he was just as impressed that Brandstatter came within 100 points of Benjamin Jensen’s school-record 7,716 mark set in 1997 – Jensen being a Gophers alumnus Lundin calls “unbelievable.”

“Travis isn’t getting into the ‘unbelievable’ range yet, but over time he could be an 8,000-plus decathlete,” Lundin said. “And now he’s going to the big show.”

Women’s track and field

Two Minnesota women’s tracksters captured first place at the Northern Iowa Twilight Open while most of the team rested for the Drake Relays.

Sarah Nelson won the long jump at 18 feet 9 1/2 inches and Jessie Syfko won the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 11:47.66.

“Sarah jumped much better technically than she did a week ago,” coach Gary Wilson said.

Many of Minnesota’s competitors at the meet were athletes developing for the future, Wilson said.

And when they got to Iowa, he told them to use the meet as a stepping stone and inspiration for the future, like distance runner Harper McConnell did in 2003.

McConnell went on to improve her cross country running in the fall and is now going to the Drake Relays.

“This meet is designed to give you a little breakthrough,” Wilson told his team. “Hopefully, it inspires you to train harder in the summer and be ready for next year.”