Erickson eyes throwing at Big Tens and beyond

Lou Raguse

Ever since Minnesota thrower Karl Erickson exploded onto the Minnesota’s men’s track and field scene two years ago as a freshman, people have been telling him of his potential.

Erickson broke the Gophers’ freshman shot put mark during the indoor and outdoor seasons, and last year earned his second Big Ten championship in the discus and his second All-American honor in the shot.

And with the U.S. Olympic trials coming up this summer and another season with the Gophers to prepare him for future national and international competition, his future is bright.

But right now, Erickson is honing in on the Big Ten Championships May 14-16, and after throwing a new personal best in the shot put last weekend, it looks like he’s on the right track.

“I was ready to bust out a big one,” Erickson said. “I expected to be throwing like that all the time. But this is the way we want it to be – to peak at the Big Tens.”

Erickson’s toss at the Iowa Twilight meet Saturday measured at 63-8.5. His previous record of 63-7.75 came in March 2003.

But Erickson has spent much of the season adjusting to a new throwing coach, Scott Bennett, who replaced Mario Sategna this year.

“It’s like the old saying goes, it takes a minimum of 10,000 repetitions to make a change in mechanics,” Bennett said. “Now he’s starting to do what I want him to do.”

Erickson will throw this weekend at the Minnesota Last Chance meet as one last preparation for the Big Tens, where he will attempt to defend his 2003 first-place finish in the discus and move up from his third-place finish in the shot put.

From there, he will keep training for the NCAA Regionals and Finals. Even if he

doesn’t accomplish all he wants to this season, he still has his senior year.

“Eventually, he’ll be a national champion,” head coach Phil Lundin said. “He’s got that potential.”

This summer, Erickson will compete at the U.S. Olympic trials in San Diego along with teammates Mitch Potter and Adam Steele.

Hammer thrower Lynden Reder can join them if he qualifies.

If Erickson doesn’t make the 2004 Olympic team, after his senior season he said he will work toward the 2008 games as a professional athlete in both of his events.

“The goal all along has been to be a dual field athlete,” Erickson said. “Doing the shot and the discus – not too many people get to do that.”

Reder said he believes if anyone can accomplish that, Erickson is the man.

“Karl will be successful in whatever he does,” Reder said, “because at the most basic level, he’s just a great guy.”

Minnesota Last Chance

The Gophers will host the Minnesota Last Chance meet on Saturday as a tuneup for the Big Ten Championships.

Some athletes, such as Reder, will rest this weekend. Others, who have not hit their stride, will take advantage of another week of competition.

“We’ve got everything from pole vault to horizontal jumpers who still need to put out some marks,” Lundin said. “It helps us figure out who our 34-man roster for the Big Tens will be.”