Gophers head to Illinois for Big Ten Indoor Championships

Krista Theis

The Minnesota women’s track and field team travels to Illinois this weekend to compete in the Big Ten Indoor Championships.

Interim head coach Matt Bingle said that although the program’s goal is always to finish in the top three, its real goal is to focus on the larger process of controlling what the runners can control before the meet, to ensure success later on the track.

“We don’t necessarily focus on results,” he said. “It’s more about making good choices that lead to good results.”

Those good choices include eating and sleeping right, staying hydrated, making good social decisions and being good students.

Bingle also said working hard and applying themselves mentally in practice is imperative for the Gophers’ success.

“If they do those things, the Big Ten meet is easy,” Bingle said. “If we’ve made all the right choices, then we’re prepared. If we don’t work on the process, then we’re not prepared.”

Junior Liz Roehrig said Minnesota has been making sure their bodies feel good going into the meet, and that Bingle likes to know how the women are progressing.

“He always asks everyday, ‘Are you at a ten yet? A seven, eight, nine?’ ” Roehrig joked. “It’s always on a number scale, and it’s definitely just been going up, which is a good thing.”

Besides making good choices and following the program’s process of success, Bingle said that what makes Minnesota such a good team is that they are a full team with competitors in all areas.

“It gives you a lot better chance (to win) when you have more depth,” Bingle said. “You have to cover all the events if you’re going to try to win team titles, and that’s what we have.”

Bingle said the battle for the conference title this year will be a four-team race between No. 2 Michigan, No. 10 Minnesota, No. 13 Penn State and unranked Illinois.

“Whoever has the most fun, competes well and enjoys competing in my mind will win,” Bingle said.

The Gophers have a lot of athletes who are expected to have great races this weekend, and Roehrig said the women are ready to hit the track.

“We’ve been training and it all leads up to this,” she said. “Everyone is talking about it and is excited to just go out there and run and show what all their training has paid off for.”

Roehrig has a big meet ahead of her as she will be defending her title in the pentathlon. She said it will be a good race between the top four ranked individuals, but if anyone has an off day, the title could go to any one of them.

“The title is always in there. It’s what you’re shooting for,” Roehrig said. “But you can’t think about the outcome, you just have to think about the process that you’re going through to do it.”

Sophomore Heather Dorniden is also going to be one of Minnesota’s runners to watch this weekend. She took home a title last year in the 800-meters, but will be competing in only the 600-meters and mile this year due to the order of this year’s events.

She said her number one priority is to do well for the team, but would like to take first in the 600-meters.

The Gophers will take the track this Saturday and Sunday in hopes of capturing a title and qualifying runners for the NCAA Championship meet. Dorniden said she thinks Minnesota is taking the right approach to this year’s Big Ten meet.

“A lot of other teams go in there and they’re really serious and think it’s just about taking care of business,” she said. “But I think our team shines out a little bit differently because we’re always out there to have a good time as well.”