Past and present Gophers come together at U.S. Championships

Seven athletes with Gophers ties competed at U.S. Championships in Sacramento, Calif.

Minnesotas Harun Abda competes in the 800-meter run  Feb. 15, 2013, at the University Fieldhouse.

Image by Jaak Jensen, Daily File Photo

Minnesota’s Harun Abda competes in the 800-meter run Feb. 15, 2013, at the University Fieldhouse.

by Joe Perovich

Hassan Mead finished his college career as one of the most decorated runners in University of Minnesota history.

Mead has continued his success on the national stage, most recently finishing third in the 5,000-meter run at the 2014 USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships last weekend.

Mead was one of many current and former Gophers competing at the event.

He finished with a time of 13:31.42. The runner finishing second had a time of 13:31.41.

Mead and former Gophers runner Harun Abda competed for Oregon Track Club Elite, a group based out of Eugene, Ore.

Abda finished 22nd overall in the 800-meter run, which he said was a disappointing showing.

“It did not go the way I wanted it to,” Abda said. “I was really expecting to make it to the final, and I was highly ranked going into it. … But I was having a good year … so this was just one race that did not go well.”

Abda said he made the mistake of relaxing a bit near the end of the race and it cost him.

Senior John Simons also competed, finishing 25th in the 1,500 meters.

“I am thinking that [John] may have wanted to run a little bit better,” head men’s track and field coach Steve Plasencia said. “I think you probably didn’t see the best of John Simons on that particular day. It still doesn’t take away from him — he had a good year.”

Simons recently finished his Gophers career with four total All-America honors — two in indoor and two in outdoor competition.

Simons finished seventh in the 1,500 meters at the NCAA outdoor championships in June.

He currently holds four of the eight fastest runs in the event in program history.

“[John] is an extremely passionate competitor and trainer, and [he] ran well on a national level,” Plasencia said. “[He is] one of the top five guys I’ve had here in the time that I’ve been a distance coach.”


Former Gophers thrower Liz Podominick highlighted the women’s side with a second-place finish in the discus.

Rising sophomore Nicolle Murphy represented Minnesota in the javelin throw, and former Gophers Gabriele Grunewald and Heather Kampf competed in the 1,500-meter run.

Grunewald finished fifth overall, and Kampf, right on her heels, finished sixth.

Murphy, the youngest athlete representing Minnesota on both the men’s and women’s side, finished 14th in the javelin

“I didn’t go in with too many expectations, just because I’m a freshman,” Murphy said. “I kind of just wanted the experience … and to see how I [performed].”

Murphy’s final throw of the competition earned her the top-15 finish.