The Minnesota men’s and women’s track and field teams will travel far and wide this weekend to match up against strong competition as their outdoor season progresses.
The Gophers men’s team will be attending five different meets in four states, while the women will split up between two destinations.
The men will compete at the Mesa Track Classic and Sun Angel Classic in Arizona, the John Jacob Invitational in Oklahoma, the Wisconsin-Eau Claire Blugold Open and the Lee Krough Invitational at Gustavus Adolphus in St. Peter, Minn.
Men’s coach Phil Lundin said generally the team tries to find one site for the varsity guys to compete and then a local meet for those who don’t travel or are developing; however, this weekend is going to be different.
“We’re going all over the place to try to give people opportunities,” Lundin said. “We just hope the weather cooperates and that the men perform.”
Lundin said that a primary objective for many of the top Gophers is to reach their NCAA Midwest Regional qualifying marks, while team members on the depth chart are going to work on building confidence for the Big Ten Championships.
One Minnesota runner Lundin is excited to see perform this weekend is sophomore Ibrahim Kabia, who will be competing in his first outdoor meet of the season.
“He’s one of the top sprinters in the U.S.,” Lundin said. “Hopefully (the temperature) will remain in the 80s, which would be a good way for him to open up the outdoor season because he certainly is an elite sprinter, and we want to give him some opportunities.”
Another runner who is expected to perform well this weekend is senior Aaron Buzard.
Last weekend, Buzard qualified for the regional meet when he won the 400-meter dash at the Tiger Classic in Auburn, Ala.
This weekend, he will be competing in the 400-meter dash again as well as the 4×100- and 4×400-meter relays.
Buzard said he thinks those relay teams are really well put together and could do very well this weekend.
Women back in action
The women’s team is excited to compete once again after taking a week break due to last week’s Hamline Invitational being canceled due to weather.
Women’s coach Matt Bingle said that the time off was beneficial for the women to relax and slow down for a bit because they will be traveling steadily for the next few weeks.
This weekend a group of the women will be joining the men at Gustavus, while the majority will be competing in the Spec Towns Invitational in Athens, Ga.
Bingle said he expects the competition to be especially strong in Georgia in the sprints, jumps and thrower events, but said he is excited to see all the women perform outside.
“I’m kind of anxious to get down there and let them be outside and in the open and see how they do,” Bingle said. “We’ve been boxed up for the last couple of weeks.”