Field events carry women’s track team the Drake Relays

by Monica Wright

DES MOINES, Iowa — The Drake Relays is most-known for its many sprint and distance relay events.
But the Gophers women’s track and field team left Des Moines on Saturday after dominating the field events, placing in the top 10 in each of the field events the Gophers participated in.
Senior Nicole Chimko began the series of solid showings Friday with a first-place finish in the javelin, topping 28 other throws to win with a toss of 161 feet, 5 inches.
Despite the win, throwing coach Lynne Anderson knows Chimko got by with a sub-par pitch.
“A win is always good, but she has some things to work on still,” Anderson said. “She can’t expect good competition to carry her.”
Junior Aubrey Schmitt took inspiration from tough competition from Georgia and Brown to place second and third in the discus and shot put, respectively.
Senior Christine Gulbrandsen, who has been injured most of the season, chose Drake as her first meet this season in order to defend her triple jump title from 1999.
Though Gulbrandsen didn’t repeat last year’s performance, she did land a third-place jump.
“For me it was different because I was injured this year, so I wasn’t sure I’d be able to jump at all,” Gulbrandsen said. “Third was good for me in that sense.”
Even better than her triple jump results was Gulbrandsen’s performance in the pole vault. Competing against last year’s champion and Team Nike International member Kellie Suttle, Gulbrandsen set a personal outdoor record with a vault of 11’11 3/4″ that set her in eighth place.
On the track side of the meet, the Gophers held their own in several events, including Corinne Nimtz’s showing in the 10,000-meter run.
Nimtz, who has provisionally qualified for the NCAA meet in the same event, led the race for several laps but fell to fourth place as Washington’s Kate Bradshaw took an insurmountable half-lap lead over the pack of 27 runners.
Nimtz and sophomore Victoria Moses also took part in the special 5,000 invitational run that, halfway around the first lap, had to be started over due to pushing and congestion around the first turn.
Saturday the Gophers women finished seventh in 4×800 meter relay as freshmen Anita Menden and Tanna Simmons, sophomore Jenny Moylan and senior Gena Johnson finished with a time of 9:01.86.
“Seventh place is great when you’re competing against the best teams in the country,” Moylan said. “These are tough races and it’s a confidence booster to know we can compete with schools like Stanford and handle the pressure.”
With pressure from first-class competition, Moylan found the crowd of 18,000 clapping and shouting fans a release.
“This is a very mental sport and it’s really awesome to have all these people, our parents and teammates here cheering us on.”

Monica Wright covers track and field and welcomes comments at [email protected].