Track teams prepare for Drake Relays

by Monica Wright

With only one week left before the Drake Relays the Gophers men’s track and field team again scatters across the country to try and improve times and set personal records in the warm weather.
Senior Eric Pierce, the 1999 Big Ten champion in the steeplechase, is the lone Gopher in Arkansas as he tries to increase his speed before heading to Iowa.
The rest of the team returns to Tucson, AZ., for the Arizona Elite.
Last week at the Sun Angel Invitational at Arizona State, the Gophers set one school record and had several NCAA qualifying times, a feat head coach Phil Lundin hopes to repeat.
“We’re really looking forward to this meet, there’s some great opportunities for young guys to run some fast times,” Lundin said. “Our 4×100 relay continues to try and break the 40-second barrier.”
In addition to the relay, sophomore Andrew McKessock and senior Nate Clay will both participate in the 1,500-meter race while a host of throwers will try to improve on their throws.
Despite all the activity in Arizona Lundin is still focused on getting his team prepared for the Drake Relays, one of the biggest and most popular track meets in the country.
“We’re on the road a lot this weekend,” Lundin said. “We just want everyone to stay healthy and happy and have a good weekend so we can be ready for Drake.”

Women’s track and field
While the men scatter for the weekend, the Gophers women are staying close to home to rest and prepare for the Drake Relays.
A small crew of runners will be headed to the Eau Claire Invitational for a meet Friday.
“We’re sending a small group of our developing athletes to race,” head coach Gary Wilson said. “Everyone else is just looking forward to Drake and Big Tens.”
After a long weekend that required the team to travel Thursday through Monday, Wilson decided to give most of the team a break.
Judging by their performance at the Mt. SAC Relays last weekend, they deserve it.
The Gopher women set school records in both the 4×400 relay and the hammer throw while junior Corinne Nimtz provisionally qualified for the NCAA’s in the 10,000.
Minnesota will be back in action next weekend when they join the men at the Drake Relays, April 28, in Des Moines.

Monica Wright covers track and field and welcomes comments at [email protected]