Despite resting athletes, women take eight titles

Robert Mews

With the impending Big Ten Indoor Track and Field Championships this weekend and some less demanding opponents at the Parentsí Day Open on Saturday, Minnesotaís womenís track and field team was able to rest some of its athletes and still capture eight titles.

However, the meet at the University Fieldhouse did not come without some bruises.

Distance runner and senior, Lauren Williams fell during the 1000-meter run.

ìThree kids went down in that race,” coach Gary Wilson said. ìThat was too bad because you never want to have an injury or any resemblance of an injury going into the Big Ten meet and now we got one.”

But Williams still managed to place second in the race and Wilson said she should be ready to go for Big Tens next weekend in Madison, Wis.

Sprinter Kadian Douglas said sheíll be looking forward to next weekend as well.

She won the 60-meter dash Saturday with a time of 7.59 seconds.

ìI had a pretty good race, but I didnít run the time that I wanted,” Douglas said.

She said she was happy because the coaches told her that she had her best start off the blocks thus far this season, but she felt she can still run faster.

ìI will stay positive knowing that I had run faster than that,” she said. ìI still think I can rip it next week sometime hopefully.”

Wilson said pole vaulter Andrea Smith may finally compete for the Gophers next weekend after her pole vault jump of 12-feet 10-inches Saturday.

ìThatís one of the best vaults in the conference,” Wilson said. ìSo weíre probably going to take her out of her red shirt this year.”

Smith competed unattached to a team, while three other Minnesota jumpers finished in the top ten.

The Gophers were also able to capture the top two positions in the shot put.

Senior Liz Alabi won the event with a distance of 48 feet, 10 3/4 inch, and freshman Kari Schmidt took second with a distance of 47 feet, 11 3/4 inch.

The Gophers also were able to capture the 3000 with senior Harper McConnell lapping about half the field to a time of 10:10.33 minutes.

In the 600, freshman Ayla Mitchell took first with a time of 1:37.83 minutes.

ìThis is a meet where we try to fine tune things,” Wilson said. ìItís just a situation where we try to maximize and then try to improve some things so that we are ready to go for next week.”

Men also at home

The men had a chance to fine tune some things at the University Fieldhouse on Friday night before their Big Ten Indoor Track and Field Championships in Iowa City, Iowa, this coming weekend.

One of the bright spots was Adam Schnaibleís throws.

In the final round of the weight throw, Schnaible threw a Fieldhouse record and automatic NCAA qualifying distance of 69 feet, 8 1/4 inch.

ìThat was off the two turns versus what people normally would do off three turns,” coach Phil Lundin said. ìSo, that was a great effort.”

Schnaible finished second in the shot put to teammate Karl Erickson, who threw a NCAA automatic qualifying distance of 62 feet 5 3/4 inch.

ìThatís very, very positive in light of the position we are in the Big Ten,” Lundin said of both throws.

One area that the Gophers have struggled in this season has been the high jump. The team has three All-American-caliber high jumpers in Kevin Netzer, Parker Robinson and John Albert.

Albert did not compete Friday. Robinson finished tied for second with Netzer with a height of 6 feet, 9 3/4 inch.

ìWeíve just been struggling this year,” Lundin said.

Lundin said injuries have gotten the best of the high jumpers. Lundin said Albert has had ankle problems and that kept him out of competition Friday.

Long jumper Pat Akpaette didnít compete Friday because of an injury as well.

Akpaette ran in the triple jump warm-ups before pulling out with ice strapped to his right hamstring.

ìThat is obviously a big concern this time of year,” Lundin said.

Lundin said the team will make an assessment on Monday.

The Gophers also were able to win the 600.

Aaron Buzard was cruising on toward a victory but left the race on the last lap. Teammate Walter Langkau won with a time of 1:19.21 minutes.

Lundin said Buzard left the race because it was more of a practice run for him.

ìWeíre going to let him take this weekend off,” Lundin said. ìBut itís just a practice for the 600, which he may or may not run in the Big Ten.”