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Men’s team takes 10 titles at weekend Minnesota Invite

The Minnesota’s men’s track and field team was able to claim 10 titles in the Minnesota Open that featured limited nonconference competition. Yet the Gophers’ main objective coming into the Saturday meet at University Field House was to improve on individual performances before the Big Ten Indoor Championships on Feb. 25 and 26 ” and they have seven more meets before then.

One area the Gophers were strong in last season, and possibly have more depth in this year, is their throwers.

“We’ve got two national-caliber throwers right there (Adam Schnaible and Karl Erickson),” coach Phil Lundin said. “And, the other guys, too, are coming along.”

Junior thrower Schnaible outthrew everyone in the first and final rounds of the 35-pound weight throw. His throws of 62 feet, 10 inches in the first round and 63 feet, 1 inch in the final round were good enough for an NCAA provisional qualifying mark.

Senior thrower Erickson also threw well enough to earn an NCAA provisional qualification and first place with 58 feet, 8 inches in the final round of the shot put.

In other field events, the Gophers didn’t have much trouble taking the top position, either.

Senior jumper John Albert won the high jump with a clearing mark of 6 feet, 10 3/4 inches. Lundin said Albert is capable of clearing 7 feet, 5 inches.

“We got some things to iron out with John Albert technically,” Lundin said. “But he’s an old salt, and he’ll be ready to go when it counts.”

Junior jumper Derek Gearman placed first in the long jump with a personal best of 23 feet, 11 3/4 inches. Senior jumper and sprinter Andrew Newman placed third with 23 feet, zero inches.

Newman’s participation in the long jump may come as a surprise because the coaches had planned to focus him more on sprints.

“It’s something I really have a passion for, and that’s what I like to be doing,” Newman said of the long jump.

Newman has been one of Minnesota’s premier jumpers, but injuries have limited his chances at really advancing in that area.

“I think it’s going to pay off as long as we are very, very patient, or limiting the number of jumps he takes in practice,” Lundin said of Newman.

Newman also placed fourth in the 60-meter dash with a time of 6.97 seconds. Freshman sprinter Ibrahim Kabia won the event in 6.90.

In the longer runs, the Gophers also looked dominant. Senior middle distance runner Trent Riter won the mile run by nearly four seconds with a time of four minutes, 14.88 seconds.

Lundin said Riter is also “one of the premier” 800-meter runners in the U.S.

Sophomore distance runner Mike Van Beusekom took first in the 3,000 with a time of 8:41.96.

“I’m pleased so far, but unless we stay healthy… it doesn’t matter,” Lundin said. “What we’re trying to do is try to get people ready when it counts ” at the end of February for the Big Ten Indoor Meet.”

Women also dominate

Minnesota’s women’s track and field team also looked poised in many individual events.

The Gophers throwers and distance runners are typically the strongest parts of the women’s team. That was the case in Saturday’s Minnesota Open.

“We’re probably two steps ahead of where we were a year ago in this first meet,” coach Gary Wilson said.

The Gophers placed first, second and third in the mile. They also dominated the 3,000 by placing first through sixth.

Minnesota was able to take the top four positions in the long jump, place first and second in the shot put and take the top spot in the triple jump.

Wilson said he was very pleased with all the results given that this was the Gophers first competition this season.

“I just think we’re in a really good place right now,” Wilson said. “They’re doing a great job.”

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