IOWACITY — In the all-out point grab that was the women’s Big Ten track and field championships, the Gophers landed just shy of first place with 118 points, 17 points behind first-place Indiana. It was their best showing in over a decade at the outdoor meet.
Despite the team’s strong placement at the indoor championships earlier this season, the Gophers were prepared for what coach Gary Wilson called a “dogfight” with at least five other Big Ten teams. Last February, four points separated fourth-place Minnesota from seventh.
“It was amazing,” senior Christine Gulbrandsen said of the team score. “There’s always someone who doesn’t do well, but that wasn’t the case here.”
The Gophers’ stronghold came in the field events where they garnered three Big Ten titles. Sophomore Linda Lindqvist, who has been sidelined with an injured elbow much of the outdoor season, used only one of six possible throws to win the title and automatically qualify for the NCAA championships with a toss of 174 feet.
“I am very happy that I made it in the first throw because of my injury,” Lindqvist said. “I knew that I had to do it in one throw. I don’t know if I’ll go to nationals or not because of my elbow, but I will start training at home in July.”
Following Lindqvist’s lead was teammate Aubrey Schmitt in the shot put. The event, which had three of Schmitt’s teammates among her competitors, landed Schmitt an NCAA provisional qualifying toss of 15.58 meters, only .05 meters better than second place.
Minnesota also stormed the discus competition, with juniors Brenda Meyer and Schmitt taking seventh and second respectively. Senior Nicole Chimko took fourth.
But it was the veteran Gulbrandsen who added the most points to the total.
Participating in four events — the triple jump, long jump, high jump, and pole vault — Gulbrandsen took the Big Ten title in the triple jump, placed third in the pole vault, and sixth in the long jump.
“I’ve been injured so I haven’t been able to practice any pole vault techniques in weeks but I still got a (personal record) and took third,” Gulbrandsen said. “I like being in a lot of events because it’s boring to sit and wait all the time, I would rather be active.”
With all the winnings coming from the field it was easy to ignore the races, an area where the Gophers posted respectable times but took no titles.
Junior Corinne Nimtz was the Gophers’ highest finisher with a second-place run in the 10,000, followed by senior Rasa Michniovaite’s third-place finish in the 1,500 and freshman Tanna-Marie Simmons’ fourth-place time in the 800.
Gulbrandsen, who ended her Big Ten career at this meet, couldn’t be happier with the results her teammates posted to take second.
“I’m really happy with how well the team has done, everyone did their part,” she said.
Monica Wright covers track and field and welcomes comments at [email protected]