Men’s track team second at Big Ten meet

by Kent Erdahl

Minnesota’s men’s track and field team found itself looking up at the rest of the field after day one of the Big Ten Indoor Championships in Ann Arbor, Mich., on Saturday.

But after qualifying 13 individuals for Sunday’s finals, the Gophers were poised to jump past much of the competition.

Minnesota closed the championships in second place with 122 team points, finishing behind Wisconsin (174.5). The Gophers rallied from an eighth-place standing after the first day’s events, which put the team 78 points behind the first-place Badgers.

“We knew if we had just a reasonably good day, we would score a fair number of points,” Gophers coach Phil Lundin said. “But I was unsure whether it would be enough, and it wasn’t.”

Although the team fell short, there were several impressive individual performances.

The Gophers high jumpers finished first, second, third and sixth. John Albert won the event by clearing 7 feet 3 inches.

Other highlights included Mitch Potter’s first-place finishes in the 400-meter dash and 200-meter dash, and the first-place finish of the 400-meter relay team, which Potter anchored.

Potter’s finish in the 200 was a track record at 21.09 seconds and automatically qualified him for the NCAA championships.

“To qualify on a 200 flat track is unprecedented,” Lundin said. “You just don’t see that. His performance was outstanding.”

Women finish ninth

Minnesota’s women’s track and field team had two quite different performances in two days of competition at the Big Ten Indoor Championships held in Iowa City, Iowa, over the weekend.

After day one, the Gophers were in third place, less than 10 points behind leader Penn State and second-place Wisconsin. But, by the end of the championships on Sunday, the Gophers had fallen to ninth with 38 points, while Penn State claimed the title with 115 points.

Redshirt freshman Jacenta Spandl gave the young Gophers a boost Saturday by finishing second in the pentathlon. Spandl’s performance was highlighted with third-place finishes in the pentathlon high jump and shot put.

She scored a leap of 5-5 1/4, and put the shot 39-1 1/4. The throw was Spandl’s personal best by more than a foot.

Monica Stearns, Liz Alabi and Sarah Nelson added strong finishes in the field events. Stearns finished third in the pole vault, Alabi was third in the shot put and Nelson was fifth in the long jump.

The Gophers fell short in most of the running events, finishing with only two runners in the top eight of all the events.

Minnesota coach Gary Wilson recognized the low scoring, but said it was to be expected.

“We just had some holes, but that’s kind of where we are right now,” Wilson said. “I was pretty pleased overall with the team. I thought it was about a B-plus overall.

“We’re still a year away from making a big improvement.”