Minnesota continues to work out kinks at first full outdoor meets

Junior Laura Docherty broke the school record in the 10,000-meter run.

Minnesota distance runner Laura Docherty leads at the Jack Johnson Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, at the Fieldhouse.

Image by Bridget Bennett

Minnesota distance runner Laura Docherty leads at the Jack Johnson Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, at the Fieldhouse.

by Megan Ryan

The Gophers men’s and women’s track and field teams are still working out the kinks in their transition from the indoor to outdoor season.

The teams competed in their first full meets of the outdoor season this weekend at the Stanford and Arkansas invitationals. They have had limited training outside to start the outdoor season because of lingering winter weather.

“March is sometimes kind of rough,” head men’s coach Steve Plasencia said. “It’s a time when you can pick up some more injuries. People can be a little more erratic performance-wise. So we saw a little bit of that as well.”

No team scores were kept at any meets this weekend, but some athletes had standout performances.

Senior Harun Abda placed first in the 800-meter run with a time of 1:48.64, the fastest-time in the nation so far this season.

“Today I was just there to kind of race people instead of going for time,” Abda said. “I’m not trying to run [a] really fast time right now. … It’s just to see where I am compared to last year.”

Abda also ran in the 4×400-meter relay with senior Kevin Bradley, junior Jacob Capek and senior Cameron Boy. The team finished second with a time of 3:09.12.

Boy placed second in the 200-meter dash in 21.10 seconds.

In the field, junior Zach Siegmeier placed second in the pole vault invitation on a judge’s decision after clearing 5.25 meters. Senior Oladipo Fagbemi placed second in the long jump invitational at 7.31 meters.

Senior Quentin Mege placed second in the hammer throw invitational at 66.22 meters. Sophomore Justin Barber won a separate hammer throw event, the collegiate hammer throw, at 56.76 meters.

A small group of distance runners from the women’s team also traveled to California.

Junior Laura Docherty highlighted the women’s results by breaking the school record in the 10,000-meter run in her first outdoor meet of the season. Docherty ran 33:24.93 to break the record — that has stood since the late 1980s — by more than seven seconds. She placed 15th in her section.

Head women’s coach Matt Bingle said Docherty’s record-breaking performance shows how much work she has put into her running and the Gophers program.

“It’s well-deserved, and it’s exciting for her,” Bingle said. “It’ll be exciting to see what happens [the rest of the season].”

The Gophers had six event wins at the Arkansas Invitational.

Senior Todea-Kay Willis won the long jump at 6.17 meters and also finished third in both the 100-meter dash and 4×100-meter relay.

“I’m feeling hopeful,” Willis said. “It’s still early in the season, so things are a little rusty right now, but … it’s a good way to start.”

Senior Alena Brooks placed first in the 400-meter dash in 54.27 seconds while junior Te’Shon Adderley placed first in the 800-meter run in 2:10.36. Both were also a part of the winning 4×400-meter relay along with junior Megan Geyen and sophomore Jessica Waldvogel.

Redshirt freshman Becca Dyson won the 3,000-meter run in 9:39.39 while junior Ashlie Decker won the seeded 1,500-meter run in 4:32.73.