Record-setting Saturday at Field House

by Robert Mews

Coaches say early season indoor track and field meets are supposed to be an exhibition before the Big Ten meet, but what Minnesota’s men’s team did at the Jack Johnson Classic on Saturday was turn it into a record-breaking track and field meet.

The Gophers broke two meet records with the 600-meter dash and the 3,000. Two team records were also broken in the weight throw, and all came against their toughest competition of the season thus far.

However, coach Phil Lundin said the meet was a “mixed bag.”

Lundin said he was a little worried about the shot put and the high jump. Minnesota historically has been strong in these events with senior Karl Erickson throwing and senior John Albert jumping.

Erickson finished second in the shot behind Iowa’s Shane Maier with a distance of 58 feet 11 1/4 inches. Albert finished second in the high jump with a height of 6 feet 10 3/4 inches.

“We can improve upon that,” Lundin said. “It’s just a matter of ironing out a few of the bugs.”

Yet it might be the other throwing event in which Minnesota was most impressive.

Junior thrower Adam Schnaible threw a team record 67 feet 6 3/4 inches in the first round of the weight throw, and turned around to place the weight at the same distance in the final round ” his distance was a good 14 feet farther than the throw of Iowa’s second place Ryan Jordan.

“That’s really satisfying,” Lundin said. “I think he’s capable of throwing over 70 feet, which is a really good toss.”

One area that Minnesota competed in fairly well, which Lundin said was a “brutal event,” was the triple jump.

Gophers jumpers Derek Gearman, Pat Akpaette and Ray Blackledge placed first through third in the event, respectively.

During the event, the three said they kept pushing each other to jump farther.

“We’re all highly competitive and stuff,” junior jumper Gearman said. “We talk to each other… and we try to beat each other all the time.”

The Gophers were also able to claim titles in the 60, the 800 run, 4-by-400 relay and pole vault.

“I think we’re heading in the right direction,” Lundin said. “We’re starting to show some sharpness and some good performances in certain areas.”

Women also impress

The women’s track and field team also was able to wrap up the meet with some impressive times and distances.

The Gophers broke a meet record in the 4-by-400 with a time of 3:45.62, and it also was able to secure the 60 dash and 800 run on the track side. On the field, Minnesota was able to claim the long jump, shot put and weight throw.

Yet coach Gary Wilson said he was concerned with how the team performed “a little bit scared.”

Wilson said that mentality might be because this meet was the last chance for the runners to prove themselves before the Meyo Invitational in South Bend, Ind., in two weeks.

“With another couple of meets there’re going to be there,” Wilson said. “We were less rough this week than we were last week, and we’ll be less rough in two weeks.”