Colorful jumpers score big

Jim Schortemeyer

COLUMBUS, Ohio — From Tyler McCormick’s maroon hair to Staffan Strand’s high-stepping stride, the Gophers high jumpers were a colorful group to watch at the Big Ten Championships.
But they weren’t only colorful –they were effective. Minnesota’s high jumpers earned 24 of the Gophers’ 134 points. For the first time in months, head coach Phil Lundin didn’t have anything negative to say about an event he was concerned with all spring.
“The high jump doesn’t surprise me,” Lundin said. “But there was a concern — after indoors, when they all cleared 7 feet, then outdoors there was nothing.”
McCormick literally had to run from the long jump, where he finished eighth, to the high jump. After taking a minute to compose himself, McCormick cleared more than six feet, eight inches on his first attempt.
“It’s good to switch-off. It doesn’t let me think about anything,” McCormick said.
McCormick finished third in the high jump, while Strand won the competition.
Coming in fourth, Marc Johannsen had one of his better efforts of the spring, but became slightly upset when McCormick was asked about his hair.
“I told you I should have dyed mine,” Johannsen told McCormick. “I was going to go bright blond, but I didn’t have the guts.”
Wil Kurth was the other Minnesota high-jumper to break out of the spring doldrums, as he finished in sixth.
Not to be outdone, the pole-vaulters provided 20 points to the collective total.
Freshmen Mike Brockwell and Jon Anderson came up with personal bests in the vault to place fourth and eighth, respectively.
Veterans Tye Harvey and Vesa Rantanen have combined to win the last two outdoor vaulting titles, but they succumbed to swirling winds and injury problems to finish second and third, respectively.
Both were visibly upset with their efforts. Several poles were slammed back into their casings, but the team’s win made the individual loss easier to swallow for Rantanen.
“We’ve always been runner-up the last (two) years, and it’s nice to finally break through with the wins indoors and outdoors,” Rantanen said.