Harrigan makes U sprint history at Drake

by Brian Hall

DES MOINES, Iowa – Minnesota’s women’s track and field coach Gary Wilson stood at the northwest corner of the Jim Duncan Track at Drake University smiling like a proud father.

“A sprint champion at Drake, I never thought I would say that,” Wilson said to seemingly anybody who would listen.

Afterward, star pupil Tahesia Harrigan found Wilson and sprints coach Sidney Cartwright in their usual corner of the track.

She was received with hugs and congratulations after winning the 100-meter dash, becoming Minnesota’s first-ever Drake Relays sprint champion.

“A moment like that can sure make the sun come out on a gray day,” Wilson said. “We needed that.”

Harrigan’s performance in the 100 was one of few bright spots for Minnesota as the team competed in the rain-soaked Drake Relays over the weekend.

A week after breaking the school record, Harrigan jumped out to a quick start and held off the field in the 100, finishing with a time of 11.69.

“With the rain and the weather I needed to really keep my focus,” Harrigan said. “I had never really competed in the rain before; the cold, but never the rain. They are just things you have to deal with. It’s good to get a win.”

Beginning the final day of competition Wilson addressed his team with one simple message regarding its mental preparedness, despite the weather.

“I told them, ‘Many teams are going to be picking up tents. I know we won’t do that,'” Wilson said.

But following Wilson’s statement, the Gophers continued their erratic competition. Harrigan won the 100-meter but took seventh in the 200-meter dash.

“We were up and down, but we know we have a strong team,” Harrigan said. “We just need to focus and have everybody give it all they’ve got. If we do that we will be okay.”

The 4×800-meter relay team of Rachel Schutz, Tanna Simmons, Melissa Woltman and Jenny Moylan finished 16th but the effort pleased Wilson.

“I was really happy with the 4×800,” Wilson said. “Simmons has run a couple of poor 800’s in a row. We sat down and had a good discussion and she ran her best time of the season.

“When it would have been easy for her to fold, she didn’t. Plus Moylan ran an excellent anchor.”

The 4×800 was one of three solid relay performances.

The distance medley relay team of Anita Menden, Rachel Schutz, Jenny Moylan and Darja Vasiljeva finished sixth while the 4×1600-meter relay team of Vasiljeva, Victoria Moses, Laura Bjork, and Menden finished fifth.

Meanwhile, competing for the first time in over a month, sophomore Alean Frawley earned a fourth-place finish in the shot put.

Frawley had taken time away to prepare for the MCAT.

“They have done a good job considering the physiology of things,” Wilson said. “Travel has been tough. The weather has not cooperated and they have had to deal with classes.

“This has really been a mental meet. What you really hope to learn from this is how the kids respond. Every kid went out there and competed tough.”

Brian Hall covers track and field and
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