MADISON, Wis. — In a weekend largely devoid of standout performances, senior Ben Jensen put on a prodigious display.
Battling a phantom knee injury, Jensen won both the vault and the heptathlon at Big Ten indoor track championships.
“It’s fantastic. Unprecedented, especially with that inflammation in his knee,” coach Phil Lundin said. “Most people don’t win championships while injured. He’s nowhere near his top speed. I’d say he’s at 90 percent at best.”
Success hasn’t come easily for Jensen. Last spring, Jensen pulled his hamstring and missed out on a trip to the NCAA championships, where he finished third in the decathlon in 1997.
His training had gone well this winter, until about seven weeks ago. Jensen felt a twinge of pain in his knee in practice. Doctors have yet to pinpoint the problem, diagnosing it as everything from a cyst to an inflammation.
“I don’t know what to think,” Jensen said. “It’s been there since the first week of classes in January. I just want it to get better.”
Jensen competed with mixed results Saturday. In the heptathlon, Jensen had a subpar first day and stood in sixth place behind Wisconsin’s Brad Mohns.
“I expected to be the highest, but I did horrible today,” Jensen said of his Saturday performance. “But my second day is by far my best.”
And so it was. Jensen tore through Sunday’s competition like a man possessed. First, Jensen won the 60-meter hurdles, then the pole vault. And while Jensen was flourishing, Mohns was foundering.
The Wisconsin junior fell back to the Minnesota pack. Through six of the seven events, the Jensen had jumped to a 110-point lead.
Minnesota junior Glenn Lindqvist was in second place, 30 points behind Jensen, and Mohns was in third.
The final event was the 1000-meter run. And while Lindqvist was close, he wasn’t thinking about a win.
“I’ve never beaten Ben in the 1K,” he said. “We wanted to make sure we’d finish first and second.
Jensen and Lindqvist ran together for most of the race to keep the opposition in check. They finished third and fourth in the race, first and second in the heptathlon.
The heptathlon was Jensen’s second win of the championships. He won the pole vault on Saturday, making him responsible for 20 of Minnesota’s 83.5 points.
Two days, two wins and 20 points. Not bad for a guy with bad knees.