The Minnesota Open on Saturday was expected to be a typical second meet for the Gophers women’s track and field team. Get the jitters out, let some younger athletes get some experience, and let the veterans do what they know how to do.
Instead, the Gophers dominated.
Still, head coach Gary Wilson sees this meet as ordinary.
“This early part of the year is just for us to observe. It’s really a learning type of a thing,” Wilson said. “We’ve always looked toward April and May, not January, not even indoor season.”
Saturday’s early success might be an indicator of what the women might accomplish later in the season. Junior Alean Frawley won the shot put with a throw of 50-10, qualifying her for the NCAA Indoor Championships. The Gophers captured five other individual titles and the 4×400-meter relay title.
“The kids are doing fine, people are healthy, and right now if you can get through the winter being healthy we’re going to be good,” Wilson said.
Minnesota hoped to lead competition in 2003 with a shot at the Big Ten outdoor title, but assistant coach Sydney Cartwright took a job at the University of Alabama and the Gophers lost several top athletes during the past year.
Matt Bingle joined the Minnesota staff from Eastern Michigan University and the women are adjusting to a new coaching style and training schedule.
“Running is hard work. I try to make it fun and push them and have a good relationship with them,” Bingle said.
The coaches are reassessing goals and are looking for more individual success this season rather than as a team.
oming off winter break and a week of intense training left the men’s track and field team tired and sluggish at the Minnesota Open.
“My entire body was just dead,” said Travis Brandstatter, a sophomore decathlete.
Coach Phil Lundin and the athletes were not planning on strong performances with several athletes not competing or injured.
The Gophers hope to be near full strength this weekend for the Gold Country Classic.
“We’re going to lighten up the training load in the practice sessions and hopefully everybody enters into the competition with fresher legs,” Lundin said.
Winners included Erik Grumstrup in the mile at 4 minutes, 13.94 seconds, Josh Paulson in the high jump at 7-1/4, and a 1600-meter relay team clocking 3:15.48.
The team’s number one priority comes later in the season with the majority of its preparation aimed to peak at the Big Ten meet on March 1 and 2. With high expectations riding on later meets, Lundin and the team weren’t sent into panic mode with the results they got last weekend.
“It’s typical of this time of year, kind of struggling through, always wanting better results but realizing they’re a few weeks away,” Lundin said.