Five more head to trials

Kent Erdahl

Minnesota juniors Karl Erickson, Travis Brandstatter and Trent Riter have secured spots alongside former Gophers Adam Steele and Mitch Potter at the U.S. Olympic Trials this week.

Erickson will participate in the shot put and discus after earning All-American honors in both events at the NCAA Championships in June.

Brandstatter will compete in the decathlon. He looks to improve on the All-American status he garnered at the championships with a fourth-place finish.

Riter will run in the 800-meter dash after qualifying with a time of 1:47.78 at the Stanford University Cardinal Qualifier in June.

“It will just be great for these guys to get out and compete in that environment,” coach Phil Lundin said. “If you compete at that level you see what the protocols are. You see how the best are warming up and preparing. That is really great experience.”

Marks and Stearns go

Former Big Ten champion Shani Marks will join former teammate Monica Stearns at the women’s portion of the U.S. Olympic Trials this week.

Marks, a 2003 graduate, will participate in the triple jump. She has been ranked consistently in the top 10 despite being one of the youngest triple jumpers at age 23.

“Shani was injured about three weeks ago, but she has reached a really nice technical peak, and she’s ready to go,” her coach Matt Bingle said. “If she takes care of business she’s capable of getting in there.”

Stearns will compete in the pole vault after clearing a career-best 14 feet in a June qualifying meet in Arkansas.

Although he doesn’t coach Stearns, Bingle said she has a taller challenge because she has one of the lowest qualifying heights.

“She’s just got to be relaxed and enjoy it,” Bingle said. “Anything crazy can happen with the vault.”