Hehn earns first All-American award in breaststroke

Senior MaryAnne Kelley earned Gymnast of the Year accolades and All-Big Ten team honors, while Minnesota Co-Head Coaches Jim and Meg Stephenson were honored as Coaches of the Year at the 2002 Big Ten Championships hosted by Ohio State. The Gophers finished second with a 195.775 team score. Sophomore Annie Laatsch tied the school record on uneven bars with a 9.95. For the fourth consecutive year, the Michigan Wolverines were named the Big Ten Champions after finishing the night with 196.475.

“We couldn’t be more pleased with the performance of our team,” said the Stephensons. “Michigan had a fantastic performance and has a really talented roster and a second place finish against a team like Michigan is the second best thing.”

Minnesota gymnasts earned four All-Big Ten awards, three of which were on uneven bars. Laatsch earned her first All Big Ten acclaim as she tied the school record on uneven bars with a career-high 9.95.

“We were most appreciated on bars tonight. We had a very good performance,” said co-head coach Jim Stephenson.

Laatsch became the first Gopher gymnast to earn individual honors since Cathy Keyser took the balance beam title in 1998. Sophomore Mary Skokut and senior Megan Beuckens both tied third place to earn all conference honors after scoring 9.85 each.

Kelley earned all-conference honors on floor exercise for the second time in her career after scoring a 9.875. She went on to earn Big Ten Gymnast of the Year honors after breaking three Gopher records this season. She owns the highest all around (39.600), balance beam (9.95) and floor exercise (9.975) scores in Minnesota history.

“MaryAnne was so deserving of the Big Ten Gymnast of the Year award,” said co-head coach Meg Stephenson. “It is great that all the other coaches have seen that all year.”

Kelley is the first gymnast to be named Big Ten Gymnast of the year since Marie Roethlisberger tied gymnast of the year honors in 1989.

The Stephensons were honored as Coaches of the Year after leading Minnesota to one of the best seasons ever in Minnesota history. The Stephensons were last honored as Coaches of the Year in 1998 when the Gophers won the Big Ten Championship.

Minnesota will next compete in the NCAA Regionals on April 6.

Women’s swimming

Junior Keri Hehn placed eighth in the 200-yard breaststroke in just 2:12.43 at the 2002 NCAA Championships in Austin, Texas, to earn her first All-American honor. Hehn, who went into the event ranked 14th, became the Gophers second first-team All-American since 1997 and boosted Minnesota’s point total to 13 points, claiming 32nd place. Hehn’s time is the fastest of her career and the second-fastest time in Gopher history. Auburn won the national title with 474 points.

Dana Baum wrapped-up a great season by placing 40th in the 100-yard freestyle. Baum, who was placed 69th going into the event, swam the sprint in 50.64 seconds, the fifth-fastest time in school history and the fastest of Baum’s career. The junior from Carson City, Nev., earned All-American honorable mention on March 21 when she placed 15th in the 500-yard freestyle.

Newcomer Rebecca Cornthwaite made a great showing at her first NCAA Championships with a 20th place finish in the platform diving with 335.20 points. The Australian native placed 24th in the 1-meter springboard and 34th in the 3-meter springboard.

Men’s track

Minnesota’s men’s track and field team got off to a great start to its outdoor season. Competing in the Baldy Castillo Invitational in Tempe, Ariz., the Gophers won three events and grabbed second in three others. Freshman Karl Erickson shattered the freshman record in the shot put on his way to a second place finish in that event. He also placed second in the discus.

Winning events for the Gophers were junior Andrew McKessock in the 5,000 meters (14:35.39), freshman Kevin Netzer in the high jump (6- 11 3/4) and freshman Jason Swenson in the javelin (221-10). Swenson’s throw gave him the NCAA provisional standard and was the second- farthest throw in school history trailing only Chad Rodvold’s throw of 231 feet in 1993.

Erickson continued his outstanding freshman year as he finished second in both the shot put (56-8 1/2) and the discus (176-5). His throw in the shot put broke the school record giving him both the indoor and outdoor freshman records.

Senior Bob Quade ran a personal-best and the second-fastest time in school history on his way to a second-place finish in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles (51.54).

In the relays, Minnesota placed fifth in the 4×100 (41.07) and fourth in the 4×400 (3:16.50) meter relays.

The Gophers will travel to Raleigh, N.C., to compete in the Raleigh Relays on March 30.

Softball

The No. 23 Minnesota softball team won its final game of the Florida Atlantic Parents’ Weekend Tournament, a 2-1 decision over Florida International. The Gophers upped their record to 23-10 and completed the tournament with a 3-2 mark.

Tammi Hays scored both runs for the Gophers against FIU. The senior from Hastings, Minn., led off the game with a singe and scored on a Jordanne Nygren ground ball. Hays then doubled in the third inning and later stole home. She leads the Gophers with a .415 batting average.

The Golden Panthers did score in the fourth inning, but Minnesota’s Piper Marten silenced their bats for much of the game. Marten upped her record to 15-6, throwing her 10th complete game of the season, while striking out nine.

In the first game of the day, the Gophers fell to No. 16 and defending Big Ten Tournament champions Iowa in eight innings, 1-0. Marten was the tough-luck loser, throwing a one-hitter, while striking out 10. It was the third game this season Marten dropped a one-run eight-inning decision. She also lost to No. 7 California (2-1) and No. 9 Cal State Fullerton (1-0).

With the international tie-breaker rule in place, the Hawks’ Katie Boney hit a ground ball to drive in Laura Chipman for the winning run, which was unearned.

Minnesota’s only baserunners were Hays, who led off the game with a walk, and Marten, who followed with a fielder’s choice, as Iowa’s Kristi Hanks threw a complete-game no-hitter, while striking out six. It was the seventh double-digit strikeout game of the season for Marten.

The Gophers also fell to No. 11 and host Florida Atlantic, 4-1. After the Owls took the lead with a run in the first inning, Nygren hit her third of the home run of the season and 31st of her career in the fourth to tie the game. Marten provided the Gophers’ only other base hit as Nikki Myers struck out 10 to up her record to 20-4.

FAU answered with a run in the fifth inning and hit a pair of solo home runs in the seventh to earn the victory, upping its record to 36-6 on the season. Marten was charged with the loss.

The Gophers will open the Big Ten season versus Illinois next Friday at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium at 6 p.m. Minnesota will conclude its series with Illinois Saturday at noon, followed by a Sunday noon doubleheader with Purdue.

Womens’ Track

The University of Minnesota women’s track and field team dominated the competition at the 2002 Texas Southern Relays at Houston, Texas, on March 22-23.

The Gophers 4×100-meter relay team consisting of Amber Day, Shani Marks, Shannaine Osbourne and Rachel Schutz won the event with a school record time of 46.02 seconds. The same Gopher squad also finished first in the 4×400-meter relay with a time of 3:48.63. Schutz also placed second in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:18.85.

Also winning their events was junior Nicole Kopari in the discus with a throw of 147-feet, 7-inches, and Darja Vasiljeva in the 5,000-meter run with a time of 10:09.76. Teammmate Anita Menden finished second in the 5,000, running a time of 10:11.85. Amy Netland, Heidi Crabtree and Jessica Stephan followed Kopari in the discus by placing third, fourth and fifth, respectively, in the event.

In her first collegiate meet for Minnesota, sophomore Barbora Spotakova placed second in the javelin with a throw of 123-feet, 6-inches. Jessica Mitchell finished fourth in the event, throwing the javelin 116-10.

The Gophers next action is at the Duke Invitational on Saturday, April 6.

Rowing

The University of Minnesota women’s rowing team competed in dual action against the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn. The Gophers won two of the three varsity 8+ races and both novice 8+ races.

Minnesota won the first varsity 8+ race by a time of 6:38.5. In the winning boat was Libby Sharrow, Beth Hornby, Melissa Roche, Erin Streff, Heidi Rose, Jill Peters, Shelley Miller, Melissa Riopel, Jackie Gagner. In the other varsity 8+ win was Sarah Gleason, Kathryn Frankson, Jessica Nelson, Emily MacCormack, Angela Hedin, Sam Wangsgard, Mariel Gartner, Anna Bartels, Patricia Whitney.

In novice action, the Gophers won both varsity 8+ races in 7:03.5. In the boat was Jane Crawford, Sarah Underdahl, Ashley Arndt, Katie Thurstin, Stacy Compton, Beth Ratterman, Lora Sweezy, Kirsten Kosloske, Samantha Schwartz. The Gophers defeated the Lady Vols in the second novice race with a time of 7:15.3. Ashley Carpenter, Jessica Pfeffer, Kelly Underwood, Jessi Johnson, Shandi Hanevik, Lida Storch, Jennifer Quade, Jessica Wichmann, Rebecca Coleman.

The Gophers take a week off to prepare for the San Diego Classic in San Diego, Calif.

Men’s tennis

The 27th-ranked Gopher men’s tennis team won all six singles matches and all three doubles matches en route to a 7-0 win over Penn State in State College, Pa., on Sunday afternoon. Minnesota returns home to host Michigan State on Friday night at 98th Street Racquet Club in Bloomington, Minn.

Harsh Mankad and Thomas Haug defeated PSU’s Jamie Gresh and Todd Stecko at No. 1 doubles by a score of 9-7. Reven Stephens and Manuel Lievano won at No. 2 and Aleksey Zharinov and Chris Wettengel prevailed at No. 3.

In singles play, the Gophers swept all six matches, including five in straight sets. Gresh pushed Mankad, the nation’s number one ranked singles player, to three sets, but Mankad won the third-set tiebreaker, 7-4. Haug, Zharinov, Wettengel, Lievano and Boris Kuharic all won their singles matches in straight sets.

With the win, Minnesota improves to 2-1 in the Big Ten and 9-4 overall.

Baseball

The University of Minnesota baseball team worked for four walks in the bottom of the tenth inning to defeat Central Michigan 5-4 Sunday afternoon at the Metrodome. Senior Rob LaRue had the game-winning RBI, sitting on a 3-2 pitch for ball four, forcing in senior Jason Kennedy as the winning run. Freshman Tim Theis pitched three and one-thirds innings of no-hit relief for his first collegiate victory.

Minnesota leapt out to a quick 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, thanks to some miscues at home. Sophomore Sam Steidl scored on a wild pitch from Jeff Opalewski to junior Luke Appert to give the Gophers a 1-0 lead. Appert reached on a shot up the middle, stole second, moved to third on Kennedy’s infield single, then hustled across home on a passed ball. Junior Ben Pattee singled in Kennedy, and Minnesota was off to an easy 3-0 advantage after just one inning of play.

Central Michigan cut into the Gopher lead with back-to-back two out hits in the third. Tim Bullinger hit a line drive to senior Scott Howard in left field, but the ball fell off of Howard’s glove for a double, after he lost it in the lights. Three pitches later, Tommy Grubb dropped a single into right-center field, scoring Bullinger and slicing the Minnesota lead to 3-1.

The Chippewas attacked again in the top of the sixth, this time, batting around. Central Michigan knocked four singles and a sacrifice fly to take the lead 4-3.

Trailing by a run, Minnesota had runners on the corners with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning. Steidl dropped a 2-0 bunt down the third base line for what would have been a game-tying single, but home plate umpire Jeff Schmidt called him out, claiming he stepped on home plate. The call sent the Gophers into the eighth still down a run.

Howard led off the lower eighth with a hard single into center field. He moved up to second on a wild pitch, then up to third on Kennedy’s dome single to short. Next, came more controversy. Trying to keep the runners honest, pitcher Lee Naplin faked a pickoff move towards third base, then to first. Schmidt called Naplin for a balk, moving Howard home as the tying run and Kennedy to second as the potential leading run. Central Michigan skipper Judd Folske immediately exited the dugout to have some words with Schmidt, then with first base umpire Jeff Sill. Following that discussion, Sill and Schmidt huddled, and eventually reversed the call, sending the runners back to their bases, and taking the run away from Minnesota.

Now, with one out and runners on the corners, Pattee legged out what would have been an inning-ending double play for a fielder’s choice, allowing Howard to cross home and tie the game at 4-4.

Theis, who came on in relief in the seventh, kept Central Michigan on its heels; allowing just one walk, while striking out four. The 6-8 true freshman, who earned his first save versus ninth-ranked Nebraska last week, has given up just two hits in three appearances this season.

After rallying to load the bases with two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the ninth, Minnesota failed to convert; but managed a second opportunity in the tenth. The Gophers showed patience at the plate, and worked the bases full by drawing three walks. LaRue then sealed Minnesota’s third victory of the weekend by taking ball four on a 3-2 count, bumping Kennedy home for the 5-4 victory.

Minnesota improved to 8-11 after winning the four-hour and 10-minute contest. Central Michigan fell to 10-6. The Gophers will host Minnesota State University, Mankato at the Metrodome Wednesday, March 27, before traveling to East Lansing, Mich., to open the Big Ten Conference season.