Rivalry takes to track

by Ryan Falk

The season is young, but the Gophers are already looking at a familiar foe.
Minnesota and Wisconsin are set for a dual meet on Saturday, only the second annual meet between the two teams.
“[The rivalry] is a big deal,” women’s head coach Matt Bingle said. “We want to make sure we take care of business. It’s important to the program and the kids on the team. When you’re born in Minnesota, you don’t like Wisconsin.” 
The Gophers won the meet 85-77 last year, taking home eight event titles from Madison.
Redshirt junior Erin Hawkins recorded the sixth-fastest 60- and 200-meter times in program history at the meet last year earning titles in both events.
“Last year was awesome,” redshirt senior Amanda Beckman said. “We’re happy with what happened last year, and we want to build off that.”
The Gophers returned from winter break early to prepare for the winter season, but there’s more the team has to do to get ready for Saturday.
“The first week back is basic,” Beckman said. “We get more specific in technique. We’ve been getting race ready so when the gun goes off we feel prepared.” 
Bingle said the team met Monday to discuss the upcoming meet, and he had a simple message for his team.
“I’m respectful and I want to lead by example, but we want to win and do our job,” Bingle said. “We want to come out and take the fight to [Wisconsin].”
The Gophers women’s team is coming off a strong performance in the Minnesota Open last Saturday, the team’s first meet of the season.
The team won seven event titles at the meet, and Beckman said Minnesota is hoping to carry that momentum over to the dual against Wisconsin.
“Last week got us excited,” Beckman said. “We’re excited to build off that. We’ve been putting in the time.”
The Gophers will also get added motivation when the 2006 Gophers track team is honored before the meet for winning the Big Ten outdoor championship.
“I talk to the team a lot. When they step on the track, they are representing the state and all the alumni,” Bingle said. “I think it will make it a special day, and they will want to represent the alumni in a special way.” 
The extra jolt will barely be necessary, though, in a meet against the Badgers.
“The rivalry runs beyond us,” Bingle said. “It runs deep.”