Bungee cord helps Deneen win 110 hurdles

Allison Younge

Gophers hurdler Niles Deneen attributed his personal best performance at the Minnesota Last Chance Meet on Saturday to a 25-foot bungee cord. Deneen hasn’t attempted any extreme bridge jumping lately, but he used the cord to assist in speed training during practice last week.
“I worked really hard on my technique and stride frequency last week,” Deneen said. “I used the bungee cord for resistance training.”
Deneen, a junior, took first in the 110-meter high hurdles, clocking a personal best time of 14.19 — the third-fastest in Gophers history.
“I wanted to break my old personal best time,” Deneen said. “But I didn’t want to go too fast with Big Tens happening next week.”
Deneen, as well as several of his Gophers teammates, did not appear to hold anything back Saturday. Minnesota won eight events at the 27-team meet, which marked the Gophers final regular season meet.
Two Gophers earned NCAA provisional qualifying standards for the last time before the Big Ten championships. Senior pole vaulter Tye Harvey provisionally qualified for a fourth time this season, recording a vault of 17 feet, 5-1/2 inches. Senior discus thrower Jason Schlueter earned his fifth provisional mark, recording a throw of 181-11.
Senior Rick Obleman kept pace with his Minnesota teammates, setting his personal best time in the 1,500. Obleman took position behind the pack to begin the race. With an exciting burst of energy, Obleman ignited for the final 300 meters, passing five opponents to gain the first-place finish.
Three other Gophers took home individual first-place finishes for Minnesota. Freshman Adam Freed clocked his personal best time of 21.57 to win the 200. Junior Chad Yenchesky won the shot put with a throw of 56-9 1/2 and sophomore Tyler McCormick took first in the high jump with a mark of 6-8.
Four Gophers dominated the track to claim first in the 4×100 relay. The first-time lineup of Fred Rodgers, Aaron Wheatcraft, Deneen and Shelton Benjamin easily won the relay, clocking a time of 41.39. Gophers coach Phil Lundin was impressed with the relay team’s strong performance.
“It was really nice to see,” Lundin said. “We’ve been juggling the 4×100 lineup a lot lately because of injury.”
Rodgers, a cornerback on the Gophers football team, officially joined the track team last week. Besides running the first leg of the 4×100 relay, he also competed in the 100. He finished second with a 10.75, roughly three-thousandths of a second behind 1996 Nigerian Olympian Frank Nwampka. Rodgers should offer strength to the Gophers’ sprints team and is expected to compete at the Big Tens next weekend.
The Gophers looked sharp at the Last Chance meet, grabbing eight first-place finishes out of the 12 events entered. This week, Lundin will probably allow Deneen to continue to use his unique bungee cord training to gain a competitive edge before Big Tens.
“This week, much of the training will be up to the individual,” Lundin said. “I feel good about our performance today with us going into the big one next weekend.”