Break arrives for Gophers just in time

Matt Anderson

Pole vaulter Andrea Smith finally had a chance to do her laundry during the weekend.

As her first real break since March, the weekend was more than a laundry break for the Minnesota women’s track and field freshman.

While most of the team took the weekend off, little things, such as doing laundry, are what coach Gary Wilson said were the break’s biggest advantage. The Gophers will compete Saturday at the Musco Twilight meet in Iowa City, Iowa.

“You just need to slow down,” Wilson said. “And most young people, they don’t want to slow down, they just want to go, go, go. And then they crash. And they perform poorly at the Big Ten meet.”

Last weekend was the first time all outdoor season that many on the team were able to have a weekend free from competition.

Smith said the break was at a time when the schedule was wearing her down.

“It was kind of reaching a point where everything was feeling the same,” she said. “It just kind of brought back the drive for competition, or the want for it.”

Two weeks between competitions also allowed for a change in how Minnesota practiced.

The team trained harder last week, because there was not a meet looming on the weekend, Wilson said.

“We can work a little bit harder during last week, even the first part of this week,” he said. “This is kind of that last, final piece to the puzzle.”

Last weekend’s break marks a final respite, as the schedule accelerates down the home stretch.

Next week, the Gophers head to Des Moines, Iowa, for the Drake Relays, and the Big Ten Championships are in just three weeks.

As the year winds down, Wilson said, practices are becoming more enjoyable for his athletes.

“This is fun – it’s a fun time of year,” Wilson said. “They come out, they have a 20-, 30-minute workout and go home. It’s just polishing the gem now.”

Men split again

Minnesota’s men’s track and field team will follow up the weekend’s split squad performance with another two-location weekend Friday and Saturday.

The Gophers distance runners will be in Eugene, Ore., on Friday and Saturday for the Oregon Invitational, while the rest of the team will be at the Musco Twilight meet.

Coach Phil Lundin said there are many unknowns heading into the weekend.

“We’re training hard this week, and next week, of course, we’ll lighten up a bit for Drake (Relays),” Lundin said. “I don’t know what to expect at Iowa, but it’s another opportunity, I think, just to compete.”