Track teams clear final hurdle in preparation for Big Tens

Michael Dougherty

The Gophers men’s and women’s track and field teams were like cars in need of tune-ups right before a long trip this weekend, as they both hosted separate meets at the Field House.
The men’s team hosted the Snowshoe Open on Friday night and the women’s team hosted the Maroon and Gold Open on Saturday afternoon. Both teams head to the Big Ten Indoor Championships next weekend. The men have their meet in West Lafayette, Ind., while the women travel to East Lansing, Mich., for theirs.
Both teams dominated their respective fields of Division II and III teams.
The Gophers men took first place in six events as sophomore Fred Rogers captured titles in both the 55-meter dash (6.33 seconds) and the 200-meter dash (22.07).
Freshman Tom Gerding led a first- through fourth-place sweep for the Gophers by winning the 600-meter dash in a time of 1:19.19. Scott Beadle came in 0.2 seconds behind him to capture second place.
Senior Niles Deneen, who has already provisionally qualified for the NCAA Championships in the 55-meter hurdles, won that event with a timebody Assistant coach Steve Plasencia said he thinks Deneen will thrive at next weekend’s Big Tens.
“Nobody has bested him in the Big Ten yet this year,” Plasencia said. “He’ll get some good competition from the Iowa guys, but I think he’ll do good.”
Plasencia also pointed out the personal record setting performance by sophomore Adam Reed in the shot put.
Reed won the event with a NCAA provisional 58 feet, 4 3/4 inches, which was a foot better than his previous best.
Junior Wil Kurth won the high jump with a leap of 6-10 3/4. Kurth is part of the only high-jump squad in the nation that has four jumpers who have cleared the seven-foot mark.
On Saturday, the women’s team won 12 events and the 20-pound weight throwers all topped their personal bests by at least a foot.
Sophomore’s Aubrey Schmitt, Brenda Meyer and Angie Hill took first, fifth and sixth places, respectively, in the weight throw.
Schmitt’s throw of 58-5 1/4 was a provisional qualifier. She also won the shot put with a distance of 49-7.
Nicole Chimko took second in the shot put with a mark of 48-2 1/2. Both distances were NCAA provisional marks.
Coach Gary Wilson credits his squad for gutting out a hard season in which injuries continue to hamper the team.
Already facing the fact that he might not be able to field the mandatory 14 competitors that are required at the Big Tens, Wilson lost another runner on Saturday.
Junior Kim Heath, who was part of a 4×200-meter relay team that recorded the third-fastest time in Minnesota history, pulled a hamstring and will be unable to compete next weekend.
“I feel sorry for them,” Wilson said. “The good news is the women continue to have a good attitude and they stepped up their performances.”
Junior Yvette White set a personal record in the 55-meter hurdles with a time of 8.18 seconds. Her time ranks fourth all-time in that event for the Gophers.
Sophomore Christine Gulbrandsen won the pole vault, clearing a mark of 10-6. Freshman Stacie Blaskowski took second at 9-6 1/4.
In the 800-meter race, sophomore Minna Haranoja took first and Daphne Panhuysen took second. Panhuysen won the 1500 meters with a time of 4:39.04.
Sophomore Natalie Smith won both the long jump (17-6) and the triple jump (39-3 3/4).