Nine set for the NCAA tourney

Mitch Potter leads the Gophers into the tournament, but he won’t run the 200.

Kent Erdahl

Minnesota’s school record holder and Big Ten champion in the 200-meter run will not be competing in that event during this weekend’s NCAA men’s Indoor Track and Field Championships in Fayetteville, Ark.

Mitch Potter, who aggravated a nagging left-foot injury during the Big Ten championships in Ann Arbor, Mich., on Feb. 28-29, will sit out of the 200 but will run in the 400-meter run and the 400-meter relay.

Potter, a senior, is one of nine Gophers who qualified for the NCAAs – despite having worn a protective boot until the beginning of this week.

“He’s always got something wrong with him,” coach Phil Lundin said. “The boot was a precautionary measure. He practiced well (Tuesday), and I’m sure he’ll be fine.”

Potter broke the school record in the 200 with a time of 21.09 seconds at this year’s Big Tens. He also anchored the first place 400-relay team and successfully defended the 400 title he earned in last year’s championships.

But Potter said the small indoor track in Ann Arbor contributed to his foot problems.

“The corners were about as tight as they could possibly be,” he said, “When you run that fast, and have long legs like me, it really takes its toll.”

Senior Robb Merritt will now be the Gophers’ only runner in the 200. Merritt is the 12th seed, after finishing third in Ann Arbor.

Merritt and Potter will join Adam Steele and Mikael Jakobsson on the 400 relay team, which is seeded fourth.

The distance medley relay team rounds out the Gophers’ representatives on the track. The third-ranked relay consists of Steele, Ben Hanson, Trent Riter and Martin Robeck.

In field events, John Albert and Lynden Reder will represent the Gophers in the high jump and weight throw, respectively.

Lundin said it is nice to have so many athletes competing, and the team’s goal is to do better than last year, when it finished seventh with 21 team points.

“If this group performs well, we have a chance to do quite a bit better,” Lundin said.

Potter said he hopes he can add to that performance, but he was also realistic about the importance of this event compared to the upcoming outdoor season.

“I’ll do my best to represent the team,” Potter said. “But I’m more concerned about keeping my body together.”