Gophers wrap up season with honors

by Emily Nicole Polglaze

Six University of Minnesota athletes came away from the NCAA Outdoor Championships with All-American honors after only one athlete earned the distinction last year. 
Seven Gophers athletes competed at the meet last week in Eugene, Ore., with two earning first team honors and four earning second team honors. 
“We matured as a group,” head coach Matt Bingle said. “In terms of being able to compete well and when it counts — they did a great job of that this year.”
Redshirt junior Jess Herauf kicked off the competition for the Gophers on Wednesday, and through the first day of competition she ranked 13th in the heptathlon.
Herauf moved up the rankings the second day, recording a personal best in long jump. 
“Long jump practice had been going really good,” Herauf said. “We knew we needed a PR to stay on track.”
Herauf also competed in the javelin despite suffering a shoulder injury after the Big Ten meet in May. Herauf finished fifth in the heptathlon and was named a First Team All-American. 
Sophomore Nicolle Murphy also received First Team All-American honors in her first trip to the NCAA Championships after her performance in the javelin throw Thursday. Murphy finished sixth with a distance of 53.56 meters.
“She’s turned into a great clutch performer and someone we can count on,” Bingle said. 
Meanwhile, redshirt senior Devin Stanford competed for Minnesota for the last time in the hammer throw Thursday, placing 20th. 
The 4×400-meter relay team of Jessica Waldvogel, Erin Hawkins, Titania Markland and Emerald Egwim also ran on Thursday, finishing with their third-best time of the season at 3:35.90. 
The team came in at 13th place overall, with Waldvogel and Markland improving upon their finish from last season at the meet, where they finished in 19th place.
Egwim, a freshman, said her first time at the meet was an experience to remember. 
“I really don’t even know how to describe it,” Egwim said. “It’s been a huge shock but also a huge blessing. I knew we had the potential to do as well as we did, but it was cool to actually see it happen.” 
Along with Stanford, Waldvogel’s race with the relay team was her last as a senior. 
“She ran the best race of her life,” Bingle said. “She’s really developed over her career, and every good thing that’s happened to her, she’s deserved it.” 
Egwim said Waldvogel has been a role model for her ever since she lead Egwim’s group at their boot camp training session at the beginning of the season. 
“I can’t imagine my year without her,” Egwim said. “It’s going to be a hard transition, but I know she’s going on to do better things.” 
Looking ahead, Herauf, Murphy, Hawkins, Markland and Egwim will all be returning again next season to compete. 
“We don’t have an overall goal, just to keep improving at every event,” Herauf said. “All of our training depends on what we need to work on and our strong suits.”