Gophers relays continue to get results

Minnesota won both relays it competed in two weeks ago at the Raleigh Relays.

Junior Titania Markland crosses the finish line, placing first in the 400-meter dash during the Jack Johnson Classic at the Field House on January 30.

Maddy Fox, Daily File Photo

Junior Titania Markland crosses the finish line, placing first in the 400-meter dash during the Jack Johnson Classic at the Field House on January 30.

Ryan Falk

The Gophers women’s track and field team sent a relay team to the NCAA Championships the last two seasons, and the relay events are once again strengths for the team this year.
 
 
Minnesota’s relays won two titles at the team’s second outdoor meet in North Carolina and had two top-three finishes at their last meet in California.
 
 
“The women have changed, but the success has continued,” head coach Matt Bingle said. “It’s been kind of a tradition.”
 
 
Junior Titania Markland, who has competed in the NCAA Championships on the Gophers 4×400 relay the past two years, said the feel of a group event is different than an individual one. 
 
 
“Individual events, you get nervous by yourself,” Markland said. “In the relay, you’re all nervous for the same thing. Everyone is rooting for the same thing, and you get better energy.” 
 
 
Minnesota has been able to translate that energy into fast times this outdoor season, including a pair of long-distance relay victories in Raleigh, N.C., on March 26.
 
 
The Gophers 4×800-meter relay team of redshirt freshman Paige Peschel, redshirt senior Stacey Swatek, redshirt sophomore Madeline Strandemo and graduate student Ally McSherry put up a time of 8:47.62 at the meet, the 10th-fastest time in program history. The group finished more than seven seconds ahead of the second-place team.
 
 
Minnesota’s 4×1,500-meter relay team won its race at the meet by more than 16 seconds with a time of 18:18.65. The team consisted of Strandemo, redshirt junior Taylor Mikkalson, redshirt sophomore Tess Wasowicz and redshirt junior Jamie Piepenburg.
 
 
The Gophers’ shorter relay also had success at the UCLA Legends Invitational last weekend with their 4×100-meter relay placing third and the 4×400-meter relay taking second.
 
 
The 4×100-meter relay, which consisted of redshirt junior Erin Hawkins, junior Kimberly Golding and sophomores Emma Spagnola and Emerald Egwim, ran the 10th-fastest time in school history with 45.61.
 
 
Egwim and Hawkins also ran in the 4×400 meter. Along with Markland, the three return after placing 13th at the NCAA Championships last year and being named second team All-Americans. Redshirt junior Kat Keller ran with the group in California, and the Gophers will try to send their 4×400 relay to the NCAAs for the third season in a row this year.
 
 
Markland will be the relay team’s anchor for the second consecutive season, a position Bingle said requires instinct, and she seems to fit the mold.
 
 
“I look at the person ahead of me and think, ‘I’m going to pass you,’ ” Markland said. “If I’m in the lead, no one is going to pass me.”