Women’s track to aim for top half

Allison Younge

The young Gophers women’s track and field team will enter the Big Ten championships this weekend with a collective mission. Minnesota’s focus will be to heighten performances to achieve personal bests.
“Our goal is to have everyone reach their personal best performances at Big Tens,” Gophers coach Gary Wilson said.
Considering the strong competition in the Big Ten, a first place finish appears out of reach for such a young Gophers team.
“I would be thrilled if we finished in the upper division (top five), but we’ll just have to see,” Wilson said.
The team earned a fifth place finish last season at Big Tens, but several tough conference teams will be seen again. Returning Big Ten champion Wisconsin hopes to display a repeat performance behind a strong distance and middle distance lineup.
Wilson said Michigan and Illinois are also expected to finish near the top. Lately, however, Illinois has been plagued by injuries, and seven full-ride athletes have been forced to redshirt. This fact could play to the Gophers’ advantage and create more space at the top.
At this point in the season, many teams are experiencing injury setbacks and physical and mental fatigue. Wilson’s focus throughout the taxing indoor season was keeping his athletes healthy for the outdoor season, which leads to the Big Ten outdoor championships.
“Right now teams are holding kids together by rubber bands, Band-Aids and chewing gum,” Wilson said. “We gear our entire season for the outdoor season. Just about everyone on the team appears to be peaking right now.”
All 19 Minnesota athletes competing at Big Tens will be relied on to produce team points. In previous years, the Gophers have received a majority of their points from the throws team. This year, Wilson would like to see every group step up and contribute equally.
“The throws have always been our mainstay, but it seems to be pretty balanced this year,” Wilson said. “Ideally, we would like to have 20 to 25 percent of our points come from each group.”