Gophers win Big Ten crown

Minnesota won its first-ever Big Ten Indoor Championship on Sunday.

Krista Theis

.”Honk, honk, get out the way!” rang throughout Illinois’ Armory Track on Sunday evening as the Minnesota women’s track and field team captured its first Big Ten Indoor Championship.

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That saying, coined by interim coach Matt Bingle, encompassed the attitude the Gophers exhibited throughout the meet on the way to the conference crown.

“We were all yelling, ‘Gopher, Gopher, honk, honk,’ ” sophomore Heather Dorniden said. “We were telling everybody to get out the way because the Gophers are here!”

The tenth-ranked Minnesota team finished first with 121.5 points. Michigan, the second-ranked team in the country placed second with 108.5 points while unranked Illinois finished third with 107 points and No. 13 Penn State was fourth with 92 points.

This weekend’s victory was the Gophers’ first Big Ten Indoor title and a pleasant follow-up to their outdoor title last spring.

“It’s great to come back after winning the outdoor title and proving to everyone that it wasn’t just a fluke,” junior Liz Roehrig said. “I mean everyone can do something once, but that fact that we can do it twice with outdoor and indoor was just great.”

Besides the team title, the Gophers had numerous exceptional individual performances throughout the meet.

Senior Liz Alabi won both the shot put and weight throw events, which automatically qualified her for the NCAA Championships.

She tossed a personal best of 52-feet, 10 3/4 inches in the shot put and 60-00 3/4 in the weight throw, scoring huge points for the team.

Bingle said he was very pleased with her performance and her contribution to the team’s score.

“To me, she was the highlight of the meet for us,” Bingle said. “She scored 20 points and won the shot and the weight. She competed really well and really rose to the occasion and stepped up to the plate.”

Roehrig made a little more school history as she took home her third straight indoor pentathlon title with 4,177 points. Her score was just four points shy of the Big Ten record but was good enough to automatically qualify her for the NCAA Championships.

She is the first Minnesota athlete to win three straight indoor conference titles in the same event, and Bingle said she was a great competitor all weekend.

Roehrig said she was expecting a tight race for the title, but the key was focusing on her individual performance.

“Going into each event you just have to do what you can do and can’t worry about the other competitors,” she said. “Going into the 800 (meters), there’s always the pressure there, and I was just like, ‘OK, well I gotta stick it to it this time; I have to run this race right.’ “

Junior Liz Podominick also has success in her first indoor Big Ten meet as she placed second in the shot put with a mark of 52-10 1/4.