Women’s track using no excuses

by Tim Klobuchar

Athletes tend to spout the same explanations as to why they push their injuries aside near the end of the season.
To name a few: “You can’t use injuries as an excuse.” “There’s no tomorrow.” “I’m not leaving anything on the court/field/ice.”
Rarely has this phrase, courtesy of Gophers senior Lisa Beachy, been used, however: “We’ll just have to tuck in our skirts and put our femininity in our back pockets.”
Beachy said some of her Minnesota teammates must do so this weekend at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships in University Park, Pa.
Year-round training takes its toll on nearly every athlete, but Beachy and teammate Shellie Braggs are two Gophers in the most pain now. Beachy has two stress fractures in her left foot plus a hip injury, and Braggs has had problems with both knees and a toe.
Both are on the Gophers 400- and 1,600-meter relay teams — events which could be key to Minnesota avoiding a relapse of its last place finish at the Big Ten indoor championships this year.
The Gophers took third outdoors a year ago, and head coach Gary Wilson is hoping for another upper-division finish this weekend. Minnesota’s 400 and 1,600 relay teams are ranked near the middle of the conference.
“I think we can surprise some people with our relays,” Wilson said.
He also said his team is mostly healthy, but the way he put it, “healthy” is a relative term.
“If you’re still running at this time of year, you’re damn lucky,” he said.
Beachy knows that, and she’s still convinced the relays can score significant points for the team.
“No one person is really weak on our relays,” Beachy said. “We’re all capable of the same times, and I think we’ll do it.”
If they get unexpectedly strong performances from athletes competing in events such as the relays and discus, the Gophers have a shot at placing in the top half of the standings. That’s because Minnesota is virtually assured of points from a couple athletes who didn’t compete during the indoor season.
Tanya Simonsen is ranked first in the conference in the javelin, which is an outdoor-only event. Andrea Grove is ranked third in both the 1,500 and 3,000, and fifth in the 800. She was awarded a medical redshirt for last year’s outdoor season because of a back injury but had no indoor eligibility remaining this year.
And with steady seniors Joan Erickson (third in the conference in the shot put) and Lori Hardrick, who set the school record in the triple jump two weeks ago, Wilson’s goal does not seem far-fetched.
“I think we have a legitimate shot at the top five,” Wilson said. “The kids we’ve got have competed well. We can score in a lot of areas. Of course, with the redshirts out we won’t be as strong as we would have.”
The redshirts Wilson referred to are Big Ten champions Kim Martin (sprinter) and Dani Parkos (discus). Neither competed during the indoor season. The loss of those two has thinned the Gophers squad and made the health of those left even more important.
Beachy may have the answer to staying healthy. The same doctor who gave Gophers center fielder Bob Keeney a cortisone shot in his back recently gave Beachy a shot in her right hip.
Although Beachy is still hurting, Keeney made a stunning recovery after talking to his pastor.
“Maybe we should all just pray,” Beachy said.