Minnesota caps off spring season at NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships

Gopher women finished 18th overall while the men placed 37th.

Marija Majerle, Daily

Ashley Goetz

Marija Majerle, Daily

Minnesota closed out its 2009 spring season this past weekend at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. The women finished in 18th place scoring 14.5 points, just shy of the 15 points they scored last year . The men were strongly affected by injuries that left them in 37th place overall, scoring seven points . Both teams sent six athletes to compete. The women returned with four All-Americans while the men boasted two. âÄúThey did a great job, and IâÄôm very proud of what they did,âÄù womenâÄôs head coach Matt Bingle said. âÄúIf you make any slight mistake at this meet youâÄôre going to get eaten up fast.âÄù To start competition for the women, sophomore Nikki Swenson joined senior teammate Heather Dorniden in the qualifying round of the 800 meters. While Swenson failed to advance, Dorniden went on to the finals where she finished eighth overall, earning her ninth All-American honor to end her Gopher career. Senior Liz Roehrig captured her fifth All-American honor when she finished as the runner-up in the heptathlon for the second straight season. Collecting 5,892 points in the event, Roehrig broke the Minnesota record for the seventh time in her career. âÄúIâÄôm completely happy with it âÄî second in the nation. ItâÄôs great,âÄù Roehrig said. âÄúOf course I wanted to win, but IâÄôm happy with how it ended.âÄù All-American honors also went to Alicia Rue and Amy Laskowske. Rue tied for third in the pole vault final after clearing 14-1 ¼, while Laskowske ran to a 10th place finish in the 10,000-meter race clocking a time of 34 minutes, 24.11 seconds. Elizabeth Yetzer and Ben Blankenship both made a strong first appearance at the NCAA Championships running the 1,500. Yetzer shaved over six seconds off her best time, finishing with a 4:18.11 but failed to reach the final by less than one second. Blankenship also ran a career-best with a 3:42.47. The time was the fifth-best in school history and placed him 14th overall in the qualifying round, also missing the final by less than one second. âÄúThese guys ran their guts out competing for the University,âÄù Bingle said. âÄúThey did the best they could for the day and the situation.âÄù Receiving All-American honors for the menâÄôs team was senior-to-be Aaron Studt and junior-to-be Hassan Mead . Studt threw a career-best 63-2 ¾ in the shot put, earning All-American honors after placing fifth. This improved his No. 3 standing in the school rankings and made him a two-time All-American in the event . Mead finished sixth in the 5,000 after clocking a time of 14:09.87. This was MeadâÄôs third All-American honor, having received one in cross country and another in the indoor championships earlier this year. When looking forward to next season, Mead is confident with the way the team has been training. âÄúWeâÄôve just got to rest up and do what weâÄôve been doing,âÄù Mead said. âÄúKeep doing whatâÄôs working, nothing out of the ordinary.âÄù Chris Rombough also ran the 5,000. He clocked a 14:09.79 in the qualifying round but did not advance to finals . âÄúAny time you go into a national meet thereâÄôs a very thin line between being successful and being unsuccessful,âÄù menâÄôs head coach Steve Plasencia said . âÄúA few things didnâÄôt fall our way.âÄù Matt Fisher came into the meet with one of the top marks in high jump and a promising opportunity to score points. On his second attempt at 6-10 ¾ in the qualifying round, Fisher slipped on his approach, injuring his left ankle and forcing him to withdraw from competition. Senior-to-be R.J. McGinnis was affected by an elbow injury during the decathlon where he finished 17th overall with 7,294 points. After climbing to seventh place earlier in the competition, his 133-7 throw in the javelin dropped him out of All-America contention. âÄúWeâÄôve had a very good year, and all this says is letâÄôs take a break for a while here, then get back to training and keep it going,âÄù Plasencia said. âÄúThe guys got good experience here and it bodes well for next year.âÄù Bingle agreed on behalf of the women. âÄúThis was a good stepping stone for them,âÄù Bingle said. âÄúThey can come back and start next year on a mission to build off this.âÄù