IOWACITY — If the Gophers had it their way, the Big Ten outdoor track and field championships would have ended after the first two days of competition and they would be champions for the third year in a row.
But you can’t always get what you want.
On Sunday, Wisconsin forced Minnesota off its perch with a whopping 155 points, 49.5 more than the second-place Gophers had at 105.5.
“Wisconsin just has too much firepower, they have the top triple jumper, sprinters, and shot putter. If they have just an average day they’re going to win,” Minnesota coach Phil Lundin said. “We’ve done extremely well but I’m a pragmatist and we just don’t have the manpower.”
The Gophers started off the weekend with the decathlon, two days of events that range from the javelin and pole vault to a 1,500-meter run and hurdles.
Though four Gophers began the event, freshman Jayme Pantekoek and sophomore Jesse Madsen had to drop out due to injuries.
Despite the losses, senior Glenn Lindqvist and sophomore Lyndon McDowell went on to place first and second respectively.
“I’m pretty happy with today’s performance,” Lindqvist said. “I’m coming off a surgery in February on my back so I haven’t really competed that much this year at all so I didn’t expect much at all going into this meet.”
Saturday’s time trials gave no indication of the beating the Badgers would offer up as the Gophers qualified in every event they ran. The men’s 4×100 did Lundin especially proud in their trial heat, taking first with a time of 39.95.
“It’s exciting for three guys from Duluth and a football player to sub-40,” Lundin said. “That’s why we run. I’m happy with everyone who made the finals.”
On Sunday, a series of upsets set the pace for Wisconsin to overtake Minnesota’s lead.
Freshman Andrew McKessock, the Big Ten indoor mile champion who has already automatically qualified for the NCAA championship in the 1,500, was heavily favored to dominate the event. But McKessock fell to third in the final leg of the race as runners from Michigan and Ohio State overpowered him.
Another upset of the meet came in the sprints. Junior Tom Gerding, the defending champion in the 400, was chased down by Ohio State’s Andrew Pierce, who he set a new Big Ten meet record and NCAA automatic qualifying time of 44.87, .67 seconds faster than Gerding.
The Gophers had a final surge of luck in the last event of the meet, the men’s 4×400. Finishing a close second in the race, Minnesota held off Ohio State by 2.5 points to remain in second place.
Freshman Chris Dixon, who took eighth in the triple jump after spraining his ankle only days earlier, put a positive if not youthful spin on Minnesota’s results.
“We wanted to take first place but you’ve got to be realistic,” Dixon said. “Wisconsin is really fast, but we’ll get them next year.”
Monica Wright covers track and field and welcomes comments at [email protected]