Men’s track relaxes for championships

Jim Schortemeyer

It was a fitting performance for a track and field meet called the Snowshoe Open, in that the Minnesota men’s track and field team probably could have won while wearing snowshoes.
The Gophers won both the indoor and outdoor Big Ten Championships last year, and on Friday they plowed over local Division III teams. The meet served as a last chance for coaches to figure out how to maximize points at next weekend’s indoor championships.
“It was a matter of resting some or seeing where people are going to score points,” coach Phil Lundin said. “It’s the usual situation of using the competition to prepare for the Big Tens.”
The Gophers prepared by winning 12 events at the unscored meet, but Minnesota is clearly hurting in the pole vault. Last year Ty Harvey and Vesa Rantanen were consistently clearing 18 feet, but on Friday senior Ben Jensen won the meet with a vault of 17-3/4.
“You don’t replace two former All-Americans, Big Ten Champions and guys that clear 18 feet plus,” Lundin said. “Ben Jensen is capable of 18 plus … but because he’s a decathlete he won’t be able to focus on it.”
While Lundin knows he’s lost points, he’s hoping some of his other vaulters crack the top eight at this weekend’s championships.
“Jon Anderson is on the verge of a breakthrough,” Lundin said. “He’s been around 16-7, but we’ll have to wait and see.”
That’s what the championships are about — individuals finding a way to score points for their teams.
Junior Adam Fahey started the hammer throw last Monday for the first time ever in his career, throwing a 52-4. Freshman Ben Meyer won with a throw of 54-10, which tied a team record. Fahey’s effort sets the stage for next weekend at the championships.
“It’ll be interesting,” Fahey said. “I think I can place in the top four.”
Fahey was practicing the hammer throw by himself during the women’s meet on Saturday in an effort to maximize his place next weekend. The throwers are hoping to get the meet started right for Minnesota.
“We need to get some points early,” throws coach Lynne Anderson said. “It’s just like in the jumps. You have to go out and get a good jump early.
Friday’s meet was also the site of sophomore Tom Gerding’s continuing rehabilitation from a foot injury. Gerding has been working out in a swimming pool to lessen the stress on his foot, and says the workouts left him in good shape.
“It’s pretty tough actually,” Gerding said. “I was surprised, it was a lot of work.”
Gerding hadn’t run since early January, but he showed no signs of rust. He won the 600-meter dash and says he hopes to win that event at the championships.
But despite being the defending champions, the Gophers are reluctant to claim an outright favorite status.
“I don’t know about being favorites, but we’re definitely going to finish in the top two,” Gerding said.