One event stands out above the rest for the Gophers men’s and women’s track and field teams.
The hammer throw group on each team ranks first in the nation in the event, thanks to the combined efforts of many of Minnesota’s upperclassmen.
“Continuing tradition has been a huge part of both [men’s and women’s] programs,” said women’s assistant coach Peter Miller, who works with throwers. “It’s great to have Minnesota No. 1.”
The men’s hammer throwers are led by senior Sean Donnelly, who boasts the top throw in the nation this year.
The top distances from the team’s best four throwers combine for 252.19 meters, with an average distance of 63.05.
Donnelly broke the Gophers record in hammer throw at the Baldy Castillo Invitational with a toss of 74.35 meters and has been the most consistent member of the men’s group.
He qualified for the Rio Olympic Trials with his record-breaking throw and won the event again in his next two competitions.
Donnelly said his teammates keep pushing him in the weight room even with his run of success in the event.
“I’m not the strongest guy on the team,” Donnelly said. “So having stronger guys there helps me push harder.”
Senior Gian Ferretti also competes with Donnelly in the event and previously held the program hammer throw record with a distance of 69.65 meters last May.
The women’s hammer throwers have put up impressive numbers this year as well. The best throws from the team’s top-four athletes have gone a combined 237.10 meters this year, with an average distance of 59.28 meters.
Six of the team’s throwers are also currently ranked in the top 25 of the event.
“I think [the ranking] says a lot,” Miller said. “Our girls enjoy each other and push each other in practice. It’s a fun group to work with.”
The women’s top thrower is redshirt senior Lyndsey Thorpe, who threw for a career-best distance of 60.86 meters at the Sun Angel Classic.
The hammer throw is usually the first event at meets, and Thorpe said it’s important to get the competition started off on the right foot. It’s something the group has done consistently so far this season.
“Once you have success, it feeds upon itself,” Miller said. “With the women it’s important to have trust and fun.”