Men, women ready for Drake Relays to begin

Both team will be in Des Moines for one of the toughest meets of the year.

Derek Wetmore

The Gophers menâÄôs track and field team is set to compete at the 101st Drake Relays, which begin Wednesday in Des Moines, Iowa. After performing well at the TomCat Twilight last weekend, head coach Steve Plasencia said he is excited to see how his top relay teams will perform in a historically strong field. While it is not solely a meet for relays to compete, Plasencia said the event has been dubbed the âÄúrelay carnivalâÄù in years past because of the ratio of relays to other events. Aside from the seven different relay teams expected to participate, Minnesota will send some field athletes to compete as well. âÄúThe relays are going to be the key to our efforts,âÄù Plasencia said. âÄúDrake is good for a lot of people but not everybody, so there will be a few guys that we donâÄôt have down there for the throwers.âÄù Sophomores Trey Davis and Tyler Kleinhuizen will be competing in the shot put, according to Plasencia, while freshman Micah Hegerle will not be throwing at Drake. The Gophers main pole vaulters are competing in FridayâÄôs portion of the meet after sweeping the podium at the TomCat Twilight last Friday. The primary focus will be on MinnesotaâÄôs 4-by-1,600-meter relay team after the men won the event at last yearâÄôs Drake Relays. This yearâÄôs team includes two returning members âÄî All-Americans Chris Rombough and Ben Blankenship âÄî from last yearâÄôs team. âÄúWeâÄôll be emphasizing that team but our 4-by-800-meter team is very strong as well,âÄù Plasencia said. The 4-by-800 relay features All-American freshman Harun Abda and sophomore David Pachuta. The Gophers are also sending some athletes to compete in MacalesterâÄôs Bolstorff Twilight as well as the Drake Alternative meet, also in Des Moines. Injury updates Matt Fisher is expected to compete in the high jump on Saturday after recovering from minor knee injuries, according to Plasencia. Pieter Gagnon and teammate Mike Torchia will not be running this week, since they competed in the 10-kilometer run at the Mt. SAC relays last weekend. They instead will be training after Gagnon reported general soreness in his calves, Plasencia said. âÄúWe usually give them five to seven days pretty easy after running a 10KâÄù Plasencia said. There is still not a definitive update on the injury status of six-time All-American Hassan Mead, who is out with a nagging Achilles injury. âÄúWeâÄôre not taking it day-by-day, but week-by-week with Hassan,âÄù Plasencia said. The coach added that MeadâÄôs running volume has steadily been increasing and that he has remained in shape through cardiovascular cross-training. âÄúWeâÄôre somewhat optimistic in regards to the way that heâÄôs progressing,âÄù Plasencia said. âÄúWeâÄôre knocking on wood that we can get him back healthy again.âÄù One week from now it will be much clearer where Mead is at on his road to recovery from the sore Achilles, Plasencia said. Women also competing at Drake The womenâÄôs team will be competing at the Drake Relays this weekend as well. The womenâÄôs meet runs Friday and Saturday in Des Moines, Iowa. Members of the womenâÄôs team not competing at Drake will likely compete in the Macalester Invitational.