Gophers start fast at Northwest Open

The men’s and women’s teams took home several events at the home meet.

Sophomore Alex Beckman flies over the last hurdle in the woman's 60 meter hurdles final, coming in second place Saturday at the Field House.

Patty Grover

Sophomore Alex Beckman flies over the last hurdle in the woman’s 60 meter hurdles final, coming in second place Saturday at the Field House.

Megan Ryan

It was the first meet of the winter season, but the Gophers men’s and women’s track and field teams certainly didn’t treat the Northwest Open at the Fieldhouse as a warm-up lap.

The women’s team won nine titles and broke two meet records, and the men won five events.

Senior Alena Brooks led her team with a meet-record 1:29.65 in the 600-meter run. Her teammate, freshman Titania Markland, was Brooks’ closest competitor at nearly six seconds behind her.

“It’s the first race of the season,” Brooks said. “And it’s good to have a good opener.”

While Brooks said she felt satisfied with her first outing of the year — which also included a win in the 4×400 relay — she knows she and the team still have a lot of work to do.

Brooks anchored the relay team of seniors TeShon Adderley and Maggie Bollig and sophomore Lisa Bailey to a first-place time of 3:53.66 in the 4×400 relay.

While the relay grouping proved successful, it’s not necessarily the team that head women’s coach Matt Bingle will use.

“It wasn’t really our ‘A’ team,” Brooks said. “I mean, we did well. … I can’t wait for next week for our real relay team to come together and have a good run.”

Freshman Erin Hawkins was the second meet record-setter, running the 200 meters in 25 seconds flat.

Sophomore Becca Dyson won the mile in 4:53.76, while senior Kaitlin Mincke won the 800 in 2:15.47.

The Gophers swept the top six spots in the 3,000 meters, which junior Molly Kayfes led at 9:45.27.

In the field, former women’s basketball player senior Katie Loberg won the high jump at 1.66 meters, junior Devin Stanford won the weight throw at 17.21 meters and sophomore Becci Osterdyk won the shot put at 14.36 meters.

Men make way

After several seasons dominated by big names, the Gophers men’s team started its 2014 campaign with some breakouts.

Sophomore Trevor Yedoni, a high jumper by trade, won the long jump at 7.16 meters after recovering from two knee surgeries.

Junior Jeffrey Cottrell and sophomore Michael Bolland finished first and second, respectively, in the 800 meters — an event All-American Harun Abda dominated before he graduated last year.

“We’re not going to fill those places right off the bat by any means; I mean, those guys are absolutely studs,” Cottrell said. “It’s still going to take some time — but baby steps. And today was one of those.”

The Gophers may be a young team this year, but the underclassmen still impressed at the first meet.

Sophomore Goaner Deng, along with redshirt freshmen Mitch Hechsel, Rashawn Fountain and Austin Salargo, placed first in the 4×400 relay at 3:19.22.

And some senior leadership still shined through as well.

Zach Siegmeier catapulted to first in the pole vault at 5.12 meters, while Jon Lehman threw 21.92 meters to take the weight throw title.

Gophers head men’s coach Steve Plasencia said while his team still has far to go, he’s excited for his young athletes’ season ahead.

“The energy of the young team is fun to be around,” he said. “We’ll just have to be patient with them and see how it goes along.”