Just after they started their dual match season, the Gophers men’s tennis players fly solo again this weekend at the Big Ten indoor singles championships in Champaign, Ill.
Minnesota beat Arizona State 4-3 on Sunday, but the order of its six line-up positions are far from solidified. For that reason, Gophers coach David Geatz might be looking at how individual performances will help the team the rest of the season.
“It’s the last chance for some guys to step up,” Geatz said. “We’ll see where some are going to play in the lineup. If someone gets hot and wins the Big Tens, he’d obviously be a sure No. 1.”
The tournament also offers a unique opportunity for some players. In dual matches, a team’s No. 1 player plays the other team’s No. 1 player, and so forth. But this weekend, the open field could yield a chance for some Gophers to be giant-killers.
“Adam Selkirk is a guy to watch for,” Geatz said of the sophomore from St. Joseph, Md. “If he wins in the first round, he’ll play Jamie Gordon of Purdue, who’s the No. 1 seed in the tournament. And I think (Selkirk) can beat him.”
Selkirk was forced to retire during his last match because of a knee injury, but he’s healthy again, as is senior captain Ben Gabler. Gabler missed the Arizona State match because of a back injury suffered when he fell down a flight of stairs before the match.
Men’s track and field
Although the Gophers men’s team is facing its best competition of the indoor season Saturday in the Minnesota Invitational, Coach Phil Lundin is still taking a conservative approach.
With a host of injuries and absences from the team, the Gophers will be competing short-handed until at least the Big Ten Indoor Championships in early March.
Tyler McCormick, who qualified for the NCAA indoor championships in the high jump last year as a freshman, is still recovering from major back surgery he had in October. He might not be back at full strength until the outdoor season.
Other Gophers who are hurting are high jumper Will Kurth, pole vaulter/shot putter Seth Mischke (ankle), and middle distance runner Scott Beadle (knee).
Also, sophomore Vesa Rantanen, who finished 10th at the NCAA outdoor championships in the pole vault last season, is home in Finland this quarter. He is spending time with his family after the death of his father.
“You’re evaluated as a team by how well you do at Big Tens and how many people you send to NCAAs,” Lundin said. “During the indoor season we’re just going to try to keep everybody healthy.”
Iowa, Iowa State, Manitoba and St. Cloud State will also compete in the Invitational, which is at the University Fieldhouse.
Women’s track and field
The Gophers women’s team is also at the Fieldhouse on Saturday, hosting the Nike Invitational.
After finishing last in the Big Ten indoor championships last season, Minnesota is off to a good start thanks to a host of big performances by newcomers.
Freshman Christine Gulbrandsen is already second in school history in the triple jump. Daphne Panhuysen set a Gophers freshman record in the 3,000-meter run two weeks ago, and junior transfer Chanteau White is in the school’s top 10 in both the 55-meter dash (fourth) and 55-meter hurdles (ninth).