Women’s track team wins Classic; Strand sets record

by Michael Dougherty

Success and futility in sports are usually measured by streaks.
In the NBA, the Minnesota Timberwolves ran-off a seven game winning streak which pushed their record to 23-16 — the best it has ever been. Meanwhile, the Denver Nuggets just snapped their NBA-record 23 game losing streak, bringing their record to a woeful 3-38.
Indeed, streaks are indicative of team or individual success. Such is the case with Gophers women’s shot-putter Aubrey Schmitt.
Schmitt, a freshman from Hastings, Minn., won her third straight shot put title of the season, taking the crown at Saturday’s Minnesota Classic. Her strong performance led the Gophers to a team victory in their first team-scored event of the season.
Minnesota won the event, which was held at the University Field House, with a score of 161.5 points. Marquette took second with 123 and North Dakota State took third with 99.5.
Schmitt, who won the event at last weekend’s Badger Classic as well as the Northwest Open on Jan. 10, put the shot 51 feet, 7 3/4 inches.
That throw is the second best in Minnesota indoor history, topped only by Rachel Lewis’ throw of 52-10 in 1991.
It is clear that the strength of coach Gary Wilson’s squad lies in his throwing team.
“Right now, (our runners) are not real speed-sharp,” Wilson said, “but our throwers are doing great.”
The throwers, who are coached by assistant Lynne Anderson, took the top three spots in the event.
In addition to Schmitt’s first-place finish, sophomore Nicole Chimko took second with a throw of 47-0 3/4, and Jenney Luer took third with a throw of 43-0 1/4.
Schmitt also took second in the 20-pound weight throw with a toss of 51-3. It was her third straight top-three finish in that event.
Also in the field events, sophomore Christine Gulbrandsen set a meet record in the pole vault, clearing a height of 10-8. She dominated the event, as the second- and third-place vaulters cleared marks of 9-4 1/4 and 7-6 1/2, respectively.
Teammate Natalie Smith, a sophomore from Barbados, won the long jump with a leap of 18-1 1/2.
Despite the dominance by the field athletes, the runners also turned in some good performances.
Sophomore Daphne Panhuysen won the 5,000-meter run with the eighth best time in Minnesota history, 17:06.41.
In the 3,000-meter race, the Gophers took four of the top five places, with junior Anna Gullingsrud coming in as the top Gopher finisher. She took second with a time of 10:07.18.
“I’m pleased with the kids’ effort. We’re not trying to peak right now,” Wilson said. “We’re just trying to get a benchmark.”

Strand sets record
Anderson also coaches the men’s throwers, who put forth a good effort earlier in the day at the Minnesota Invitational.
Chad Yenchesky, a senior from DePere, Wis., won the shot put with a throw of 59-4 1/4. Junior Jeff Marsh took third, putting the shot 54-1 1/4.
But the performance of the day was turned in by sophomore Staffan Strand, who broke the Big Ten record by winning the high jump with a jump of 7 feet, 6 inches.
Strand, from Uppslands-Vasby, Sweden, also broke his old Minnesota record of 7-5, which he set last year. His jump was a Minnesota Field House record as well as a Minnesota Invitational record.
Strand, the reigning Big Ten Champion in the high jump, automatically qualified for the NCAA Championships with his record-setting jump.
Other top finishers for the Gophers were Tye Harvey, who won the pole vault with a leap of 16-8 3/4 and Eric Pierce, who won the 3,000-meter race with a time of 8:32.94.
Finishing in second for coach Phil Lundin’s squad were Rick Obelman, who finished the mile run with a time of 4:13.89, Nate Clay, crossing the line in the 800 meters in a time of 1:54.77 and Vesa Rantanen, who finished the 55-meter hurdles in a time of 7.58.
The meet was an invitational, meaning no team scores were kept.