Alicia Rue earns spot on U.S. Pan American Games team

The Plymouth native will take part in the international games in Rio de Janeiro July 13 through 29.

Tyler Rushmeyer

The Minnesota track and field season may have already concluded, but one athlete will look to continue her string of success on an international stage in July.

Vaulter Alicia Rue earned a spot on the United States’ team for the Pan American Games after clearing a height of 13 feet, 1 1/2 inches at the AT&T USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Indianapolis, a height that was good for second place.

This year’s version of the Pan American Games will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 13 through 29.

Rue, a Plymouth native, said her first trip outside the United States will be a whole new experience complete with top-notch competition.

“Some of the best athletes in the world will be there,” she said. “This is a great opportunity to prep for next year’s Olympic trials.”

Rue heads to the games after completing an impressive freshman campaign for the Gophers, where she finished as a runner-up at the Big

Ten Outdoor Championships and earned a trip to the NCAA Championships.

Matt Bingle, who took over as head coach this season for Gary Wilson, said the games will be very beneficial to Rue, as she will be able to gauge international competition with the Olympic trials looming in the not-so-distant future.

“To turn around from the NCAA Championships and come up big in her next meet was impressive,” he said. “She has no limits.”

Gopher alumna earns spot

Shani Marks, a 2003 University of Minnesota graduate, took home her second consecutive title in the triple jump at the recent AT&T USA Outdoor Track and Field Champion- ships in Indianapolis with a winning leap of 46 feet, 2 1/2 inches – a career best.

The victory earns her a spot on the United States Team for this year’s IAAF World Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Osaka, Japan, held Aug. 25 through Sept. 2.

Marks concluded her Gophers career with a 2003 season that included national runner-up and All-American honors. She remained connected with her alma mater in recent years, serving as a volunteer assistant coach for the past two seasons.

Bingle said the earned roster spot for Marks is another step forward to her goal of competing in the 2008 Olympics.

“She’s been training ever since she left the University,” he said. “It’s a huge accomplishment, and I think she can get even better.”

Gophers athlete honored

Ladia Albertson-Junkans was named an ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American by the College Sports Information Directors of America.

Albertson-Junkans, a Stillwater native, earned All-American status for her on-the-field accomplishments this fall when she placed 19th at the 2006 NCAA Cross Country Championships.

A leg injury kept her from competing in the 2007 Track and Field season.

Albertson-Junkans is just the fourth Minnesota cross country or track and field athlete to receive the honor, and the first since Marks in 2003.

Albertson-Junkans said the coaches and athletes stress off-the-field success as much as any athletic competition.

“We strive to be a team of really well-rounded athletes,” she said. “We’re students before athletes.”