Snowshoe, Parents Day invites to decide Big Ten teams

The Gophers’ coaches will determine the final 32-athlete roster for the conference indoor championships after this weekend’s meets.

Megan Ryan

The Snowshoe Open and Parents Day Invite will be small home meets for the men’s and women’s track and field teams this weekend.

Many top athletes will rest or train this weekend in preparation for the Big Ten indoor championships Feb. 22-23.

For some of their teammates, though, these meets provide a last chance to make the 32-athlete roster for the conference championships.

“On a team this deep and a team this good, there’s always bubble people,” volunteer assistant women’s coach Sarah Hesser said. “And speaking personally, I was always one of them when I was an athlete here, so I know how it goes.”

Hesser said the coaches won’t be pitting athletes head-to-head with the winner competing at the championships. Instead, she said the coaches are mostly looking for standout performances.

Last year Claire Rindo, who was essentially off the Big Ten team before the meet, ran a personal best mile time of 4:59 to earn a Big Ten spot, Hesser said.

Head women’s coach Matt Bingle said there are five or six spots to be determined at the Parents Day Invite on Saturday.

The coaches will also use the meet to decide which events athletes will compete in.

Head men’s coach Steve Plasencia said the relaxed vibe of Friday’s Snowshoe Open might help some athletes on the bubble break into the championship team.

Plasencia said the meet provides a loose atmosphere that allows team members to “up their level.”

Both the men’s and women’s teams will make final decisions about the Big Ten teams this weekend after the meets.

“Steve [Plasencia] pulls the entire staff together, and we go through it guy by guy, trying to see where he stacks up in the Big Ten,” assistant men’s coach Paul
Thornton said. “But we do look at this meet, and there are some guys in the past that have made the Big Ten meet from this meet.”

For some members of the men’s throws team, the Snowshoe presents another opportunity.

“For Micah Hegerle and Justin Barber, they are both … trying to get a mark that’ll get them into the national meet, too,” said assistant men’s coach Lynden Reder. “They’re both solidly going to the Big Ten meet.”

Reder said it’s ideal for throwers to not have to worry about throwing a national-caliber distance at the Big Ten championships and instead focus on scoring points for the team.