Men’s team heads south to Texas, while women to compete on West Coast

Krista Theis

Undesirable Minnesota spring weather has left the Gophers’ track and field teams no choice but to travel to warmer climates for outdoor season competition.

The men’s and women’s teams are splitting up their athletes between Texas and California to compete in two meets that specialize in different areas of the sport.

Throwers and sprinters will be attending the Bobby Lane Arlington Invitational down south, while distance runners will face some of the stiffest competition in the nation at the Stanford Invitational on the west coast.

Women’s coach Matt Bingle said he is excited for his runners to have the opportunity to race against the best in the country and thinks the women are ready to compete.

“The expectation is that they’re just going to get out there and get it done,” he said. “I think that’s their main goal.”

Senior Emily Brown said that although the team hasn’t had much outdoor experience so far this season, this weekend is a good opportunity for it to go after NCAA regional-qualifying marks.

“I don’t expect everyone to be at their tip-top shape yet,” she said. “But when you get to race with so many good people it’s easy to move along.”

Last year 256 people automatically qualified at the Stanford meet, which is evidence of the high caliber athletes the Gophers will face.

Brown will be joined in California by six of her teammates including senior Julie Schwengler, freshman Elizabeth Yetzer, and sophomores Heather Dorniden, Gabriele Anderson, Jamie Cheever and Ayla Mitchell.

Down south, the trio of Lizs – juniors Liz Roehrig, Liz Podominick and senior Liz Alabi – are expected to also stand out among the competition.

Roehrig will be competing in her first heptathlon of the season, and Brown said she is excited to see how Minnesota does in that event.

“The big test is going to see how the heptathletes do,” she said. “They seem ready to go, so hopefully they can come back with some automatic marks in that.”

Bingle said he would like to see the women rise to the occasion this weekend and achieve big marks too; however, he realizes it is early in the season.

Men also in action

The Gophers men’s team will also face elite competition on the road this weekend.

Coach Phil Lundin said competing outdoors is necessary for some of Minnesota’s throwing events, such as the hammer or discus.

“(When competing) indoors, you throw into a net,” he said. “So, for them to get to warmer climates and let the thing loose is imperative if we want results when it counts, in May.”

Throwers competing in Texas include senior Adam Schnaible and sophomore Andy Bastian, who have been staples in the hammer throw event.

Lundin said it is a great opportunity for his runners to be among those competing at the Stanford meet because of the teams who attend and how the runners push one another.

“People congregate a few times a year to run fast,” he said, “If you’re not there, you miss it.”

Senior Antonio Vega and sophomore Chris Rombough are two Gophers athletes who will be going after their regional qualifying times this weekend in the 5,000-meter dash.

Lundin said he has high expectations for all his athletes, but especially Rombough.

“I think he is one of the most talented distance runners in the Big Ten,” he said.

But the men’s track and field team will be facing more than Big Ten competition this weekend, and Lundin said that’s all the more reason they’re excited to compete.

“We’re going because the competition is strong, and people are faster.”