U v-ball to face two top Big Ten teams

Tim Klobuchar

One year ago, Mike Hebert, in his final season as Illinois’ head coach, took his team on the road to Ohio State and Penn State for its final two regular season matches.
Illinois won both matches, just the second time in Big Ten history a team beat the Buckeyes and the Lions on the same trip. The wins also boosted Illinois’ conference record to 12-8 and helped them to a first-round bye in the NCAA tournament. Realistically, Hebert knows that probably won’t happen again.
Ohio State is ranked 10th in the nation, and No. 4 Penn State is 251-19 at Recreation Hall, it’s home arena.
“Winning or losing isn’t the issue,” Hebert said. “Playing competitively is.”
Minnesota is likely to get an NCAA berth when the 48 tournament teams are announced Sunday evening, but Hebert isn’t sure if the Gophers will host a first-round match. The higher-seeded team usually gets the home-court advantage, which means Minnesota will need to be seeded 32nd or higher, since the top 16 seeds get first-round byes.
The more winnable of the two matches this weekend is Ohio State. The Gophers swept the Buckeyes at the Sports Pavilion in their second Big Ten match of the season.
Baseball
Gophers sophomore infielder Robb Quinlan has been invited to try out for the 1997 USA baseball team.
Quinlan, from Maplewood, Minn., will participate in the 1997 USA Baseball National Trials, which will be held Jan. 8-12, 1997. The Trials are in Tampa, Fla., at Legends Field — the spring training facility of the New York Yankees.
The 1997 USA baseball team competes in the International Cup in Barcelona, Spain, from Aug. 1 to 10.
Men’s track
Track star Tom Gerding has signed a national letter of intent to attend Minnesota, said Gophers track coach Phil Lundin.
The Waconia, Minn. native won the 1996 state Class A 400-meter run and also holds the state record in the event with a time of 47.66 seconds.
Women’s Basketball
The Gophers women’s basketball team hosts the annual Dial Classic this weekend.
In game one on Saturday, Kent State will play James Madison at 6 p.m. The Gophers will take the court against Wyoming in game two at 8 p.m.
Wyoming finished last season 11-16, good enough for fourth place in the Western Athletic Conference. Minnesota and Wyoming last played in 1985, which ended in a 71-53 win for the Gophers.
Minnesota has played James Madison once, losing 73-63 in Harrisonburg, Va., last season. Kent State and Minnesota have never met.
This is the 15th consecutive season the University has hosted a Dial Classic, one of 12 such tournaments across the country this season.
Minnesota has won the tournament six times, including three straight from 1991-93. A Gophers player has been named tournament MVP six times, most recently Carol Ann Shudlick in 1991 and 1993.

Notes: The Gophers added two walk-ons to their roster this week. Sy Nonginthirath is a 5-foot-5 senior guard, and Teresa O’Hearn — familiar to Gophers fans as the goalkeeper for the women’s soccer team — will play forward.
— Aaron Kirscht