Spirits high as records fall for U men’s track and field

Jim Schortemeyer

Things finally started to come together for the Minnesota men’s track and field team this weekend, after what has been a very trying spring thus far.
Several Gophers traveled to Stanford for the Cardinal Invitational, but most of the team was competing at home Saturday. And for the first time in a long while, Minnesota coach Phil Lundin looked happy — thanks to a handful of fallen records.
“These were the performances we’ve been looking for,” Lundin said. “We still don’t have enough of them.”
In team competition, the Gophers’ only push came from Iowa State. No team scores were kept, but Minnesota and the Cyclones won every event over the rest of the field, which consisted of Division III schools.
But almost as notable this weekend were the Gophers who did not compete. Tye Harvey sprained an ankle while running stairs May 3, and Jason Owen partially tore a hamstring in practice the following day.
Harvey is expected to return for the Big Ten Championships in two weeks, but Owen’s status is questionable. Owen owned the second-fastest 800-meter time in the Big Ten this year at the time of his injury.
“Those are two of our big dogs, and now we have to get points from everybody,” sprinter Fred Rogers said. Rogers won the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.52, the fourth-fastest time in Minnesota history.
The remaining Gophers stepped up this weekend in the absence of Harvey and Owen. Several new personal and school records were set in events in which Lundin said Minnesota needed to show improvement.
High-jumper Staffan Strand made his first appearance of the season, and he showed no signs of rust. Strand tied the school record with a leap of 7 feet, 5 inches, and earned an automatic entry in next month’s NCAA Championships.
Another Minnesota record came under assault Saturday in the 400-meter race. Scott Beadle tore off a 46.16 second race, which ranks as one of the top 25 times in the nation this year.
Sophomore Adam Reed topped his career best in the discus with a toss of 183-2. Reed placed second at last year’s Big Ten Outdoor Championships.
The distance runners also chipped in with a solid weekend, both in Minnesota and at Stanford. Rick Obleman came up with the fifth-fastest 3,000-meter steeplechase in Minnesota history, with a NCAA provisional qualifying time of 8:45.12.
Back at home, steeplechaser Tony Riter was visibly disappointed with his effort in the same event as Obleman. Riter was about 20 seconds slower than he’d hoped to be, although he won his race easily. Still, Riter remains confident about his role at the Big Ten Championships.
“For the Big Tens, the only goal is to score points, because that’s what wins championships,” Riter said. “You’re running more against the field than you are against the clock.”
One of the more exciting moments of the weekend was provided by Josh Brang in the 1,500-meter run. Brang had a runner just behind him for the majority of the last lap, but the sophomore held him off en route to the win and a career-best time of 3:53.92.
“It’s better than having me on his shoulder,” Brang said.
This weekend’s meets served as glorified practices for Minnesota, which has two weeks to prepare for arguably the biggest meet of the season. The Gophers are forging ahead without two of their stars in preparation for the Big Ten Championships.
“I don’t think our attitude’s changed,” Riter said. “From here on out it’s just a matter of rest for everyone.”