U sets indoor track and field records

Michael Dougherty

With the second-best throw in Gophers women’s track and field history of 50 feet, 4 inches (15.34m), Gophers newcomer Aubrey Schmitt provisionally qualified for the NCAA Championships at the unscored Northwest Open.
The meet, the first of the year for coach Gary Wilson’s team, was held at the Minnesota Fieldhouse on Saturday afternoon.
Wilson was impressed by Schmitt’s performance, saying, “To throw that well in the first meet is something to be proud of.”
Schmitt also took second place in the 20-pound weight throw with a mark of 51-6 1/2 (15.71m).
Sophomore Natalie Smith won the triple jump with a mark of 38-7 (11.67m), while newcomer Shannon Labernik took third with a mark of 35-11 1/4 (10.95m).
Fellow sophomore Christine Gulbrandson continued Minnesota’s dominance in the field events by taking the pole vault title with a jump of 10-0 1/4 (3.05m).
Meanwhile, in the track events, sophomore Alisa Gartner won the 600-meter dash with a time of 1 minute, 40.16 seconds. Junior teammate Yvette White took third with a time of 1:40.54.
Sophomore Alissa Bruss won the 800-meter race, coming in with a finishing time of 2:25.71.
In the 55-meter dash, junior Kim Heath took second with a time of 7.30. Also taking second place was newcomer MacKenzie Winchel, who finished the 400-meter dash in 62.35.
But perhaps the most dramatic second-place finish of the day belonged to Finnish newcomer Marja Loukkola, who upon crossing the finish line in the 3000-meter race with a time of 10:13.01, collapsed on the track and jerked in pain.
When asked about Loukkola’s condition, Wilson wasn’t particularly worried.
“Marja doesn’t remember the last five laps,” he said, “but she recovered just fine and is feeling good.”
Although his squad had a good showing, Wilson is eyeing the Minnesota Classic as one of the more important meets of the season.
The meet, which will be held Jan. 24 at the Fieldhouse, will feature Iowa, Iowa State, Marquette, Wisconsin and Texas A&M.
Meanwhile, on the men’s side, the Gophers took eight of the 15 events which were held.
The men’s performance was highlighted by the 4 x 400-meter relay team breaking the 30-year-old indoor school record and fieldhouse mark.
The relay team of freshmen Bob Quade, Andy Wiberg, Tom Gerding and redshirt freshman Steve Burkholder finished with a time of 2:56.64. The old record of 3:12.90 was set in 1968.
The team qualified for the NCAA Championships by besting the NCAA Division I automatic qualifying time by almost 12 seconds.
Earlier in the day, Gerding won the 600-meter dash with a time of 1:21.51.