U track athletes test Olympic field worldwide

by Matthew Cross

Last season’s Gophers track tri-captain Paul Michalek finished third in the first heat of the 1,500-meter run Monday at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Atlanta. He finished the race in 3:46.77.
Despite his top-three finish, Michalek can run faster. He holds the Gophers record in the 1,500 with a time of 3:40.8.
The top five athletes in each heat advance to the finals, and the top three finals finishers will be Olympians. Michalek will run in the finals today.
Former Gophers thrower Heather Berlin made the javelin finals at the Trials on Monday but placed 12th in that round. Only the top three competitors will compete in the Games.
Berlin threw 157 feet, 10 inches, which was the shortest throw in the finals. She needed to throw 27 feet farther in order to earn a chance to compete in the Games.
The farthest throw in the competition was Nicole Carroll’s hurl of 188-11.
Gophers thrower Jason Schlueter failed to make the cut into the final round Monday in the discus competition. He finished sixth in the second of two heats, but only the top 12 distances advanced to the finals.
Schlueter’s throw of 188 feet was good enough for 14th overall.
Pole Vault
Two Gophers past and present are in the running to compete for European Olympic teams in the pole vault.
However, both athletes are struggling to make the standards set by their native countries.
Vesa Rantanen, a freshman last season on Minnesota’s squad, is trying to clear 18 feet, 4 inches within the next three to four weeks to make the Finnish Olympic team.
His personal best is 18-2.
Former Gophers vaulter Martin Eriksson has cleared 18-8 in his bid to make the Swedish Olympic team. However, four of his competitors have as well.
Eriksson was the 1993 NCAA Indoor Pole Vault champion when he cleared 18-0 1/2.
Both athletes will have until the first week in July to improve on their vaults before their respective Olympic teams are announced.
Long Jump
Keita Cline, who graduated from the University during the spring quarter, will compete for the British Virgin Islands in the long jump.
Cline qualified with leaps of 7.97 and 7.99 meters during certified meets this spring.
Reynold O’Neal, president of the British Virgin Islands Olympic Committee, said it is possible Cline will be the country’s only track and field representative. O’Neal said a cousin of Cline’s is close to qualifying in the 800 meters and that relay teams for the 4×100 or 4×400 could attempt to qualify with Cline as a member.
The 21-year old Cline is a native of the island of Tortola and was twice named an All-American. He won five Big Ten titles during his Gophers career.
Ben Jensen, who will be a junior next year with the Gophers, has an outside chance to make Norway’s Olympic team in the decathlon.
In the past, he has hovered just below 8,000 points in the event. He needs to score above that mark to qualify for the team.
Last season, Jensen was hampered by a series of injuries including a broken ankle, which Gophers coach Phil Lundin said has slowed his progress in training.
Jensen will have until the end of June to qualify.