Eight track and field athletes make the cut for NCAA meet

David La Vaque

Whittled down to six athletes on the men’s side and two for the women, Minnesota’s track and field teams head to the NCAA championships in Eugene, Ore., beginning today and running through June 2.

Tom Gerding will compete in the 400-meter relay, while Gerding, Mitch Potter, Andy Wohlin and Mikael Jakobsson will run the 4×400-meter relay. Adam Steele is the alternate on the relay.

In the decathlon, Lyndon McDowell will vie for the title after turning in several solid performances at the Big Ten championships.

Coach Phil Lundin has set the bar high for each of his competitors.

“I want everyone to place in the top eight,” Lundin said. “All of them are capable of All-America performances.”

The Gopher runners will continue their season-long quest for respectability for a program not known as a perennial power on the track.

But thanks to Potter’s win in the 400-meter dash at the Texas Relays, Gerding’s win in the same event at the Drake Relays and consistent marks by the relay team, Minnesota is changing perceptions.

“You don’t see all Minnesota kids in a 4×400 very often,” Gerding said. “But we’re earning respect everywhere we go. We expect more this weekend but things are against us more.”

On the women’s side, senior Aubrey Schmitt and junior Linda Lindqvist will represent Minnesota in all four of the throwing events.

Schmitt will compete in the shot put, hammer throw and discus. She is ranked seventh in the discus going into the meet and feels she will have the most success in that event.

“It’ll be great to throw the discus right away and not have any feeling from the other two events,” Schmitt said. The discus competition is Wednesday, followed by the shot put on Thursday and the hammer throw on Saturday.

Lindqvist is ranked 12th nationally in the javelin, though a chronically sore elbow allowed her to throw only once this season – a third place toss at the Big Ten championships.

“It’s hard to put in so much work and get two meets to show what you’ve got,” Lindqvist said. “But I look forward to getting back into competition and beating people.”

 

David La Vaque is the sports editor and welcomes comments at [email protected]