Track team shines in various locales

Michael Dougherty

The Gophers men’s track and field team over the weekend managed to create something in common for Lincoln, Neb., St. Cloud, Minn. and New York, N.Y.
Minnesota had athletes at all three sites, and they shined like the lights on Broadway.
High jumper Staffan Strand traveled to the New York to compete in the prestigious 91st Annual Millrose Games.
Strand, who broke the Big Ten high jump record three weeks ago, tied Norway’s Steinar Hoen for second place by clearing a height of 7 feet, 2 1/2 inches.
Canada’s Charles Lefrancois cleared the same mark, but he won the competition because he missed fewer attempts throughout the day.
Strand, a sophomore from Uppsland-Vasby, Sweden, is part of the Gophers’ strong high jumping unit.
Coach Phil Lundin’s squad is the only one in the country that has four athletes who have cleared 7 feet. They include: Strand, with his Big Ten record leap of 7-6 1/2; junior Tyler McCormick with a personal best of 7-3; senior Wil Kurth at 7-1; and sophomore Marc Johannsen at 7-1/4.
While Strand was off jumping around New York, Lundin took part of his squad to the Husker Invitational in Lincoln.
Highlighting the two-day meet were three Gophers athletes who provisionally qualified for the NCAA Championships.
Senior Niles Deneen, who continues to shave vital hundredths of seconds off of his time, won the 55-meter hurdles with a time of 7.31, and Kurth and McCormick tied for fifth place in the high jump with identical provisional leaps of 7-1.
Meanwhile, assistant coach Steve Plasencia brought the remainder of the squad to the Husky Open at St. Cloud State.
The Gophers highlights were plentiful as Minnesota dominated the smaller colleges.
Leading the way was freshman Mark Fahey, who took first in the shot put (51-11 1/4) and second in the 35-pound weight throw (49-5 1/2). Fellow freshman Ben Meyer won the weight throw with a toss of 54-10.
Plasencia, who was named the 1997 Masters Runner of the Year by Runner’s World magazine, won the mile run with a time of 4:17.88. He was running unattached.
Junior Todd Landgraff came in second behind Plasencia with a time of 4:21.96.
The scattered squad will reassemble for this Saturday’s Snowshoe Open at 5 p.m. at the Fieldhouse.
Women’s track and field
Gophers women’s head coach Gary Wilson also took his team to the Husker Invitational and watched his distance medley relay team record the third-best time in team history.
The team of senior Andrea Lentz, junior Yvette White, and sophomores Minna Haronoja and Daphne Panhuysen finished in a time of 11:55.56, good enough for seventh place.
Freshman Aubrey Schmitt, who seems to provisionally qualify for NCAAs at each meet, did it again by putting the shot 51-5 3/4. That throw placed her sixth.
Sophomore Christine Gulbrandsen took fifth in the triple jump with a mark of 41-1 1/2, and cleared 10-2 for 11th place in the pole vault.