Multiple Gophers fare well at tough Drake Relays in Iowa

Other athletes helped Minnesota dominate a meet at Macalester.

Derek Wetmore

The Gophers menâÄôs track and field team is getting used to multitasking these days. For the third week in a row , the team had members competing in multiple venues. A multitude of individual performers joined the seven relay teams to represent Minnesota at the Drake Relays held in Des Moines, Iowa, last Wednesday through Saturday. Several other athletes competed in MacalesterâÄôs Bolstorff Twilight. R.J. McGinnis headlined the Drake meet for the Gophers, winning the decathlon with 7,319 points , 35 points ahead of teammate Jack Szmanda, who finished second. MinnesotaâÄôs 4-by-800 meter relay team finished in second place with a time of 7 minutes, 18.18 seconds, a new school record. According to head coach Steve Plasencia , at the time it was run it was the second-fastest time recorded in the country this year, second only to the wining team. Oladipo Fagbemi continued his strong freshman campaign, winning the triple jump at the Drake Relays with a jump of 49 feet, 11 inches. âÄú[The jump] was nice. The weather was a little shaky but I donâÄôt think it affected things,âÄù Fagbemi said. All-American high jumper Matt Fisher competed for the first time in several weeks. Fisher has been battling minor knee injuries but returned to finish fourth by clearing a height of 7-2 1/4. âÄúI donâÄôt think we have too much to complain about,âÄù Fagbemi said. âÄúIt was a good weekend for us and both the men and women did well in some key relays.âÄù The highlight of the Macalester Twilight meet was junior Ben Peterson on the pole vault. Peterson cleared a personal-best height of 17-7 1/4 to win the competition. PetersonâÄôs vault led a Gophers assault on the local Division III schools, with Minnesota scoring 159 total team points to win the competition by nearly 90 points. Other Gophers contributors were Addison Demer , who won the long jump, and Micah Hegerle , who won the discus competition and placed second in the hammer throw. There were several Minnesota athletes competing in the Drake Alternative meet in St. Peter, Minn., as well. Jon Lenz won the 400 hurdles and Trey Davis won the shot put. Women win fourth consecutive 4-by-8 The Gophers womenâÄôs team also competed in the Drake Relays over the weekend, winning the 4-by-800 relay for the fourth consecutive year. The winning team consisted of Nikki Swenson , Alena Brooks , Jamie Dittmar and Gabriele Anderson . The win gave Anderson her fourth title at the Relays and it was the third Drake Relays victory in the event for both Anderson and Swenson. The 4-by-1600 relay team set a new meet record with a time of 18:58.82. The team consisted of Swenson, Elizabeth Yetzer , Megan Duwell and Anderson, who earned her fifth Drake title with the win. âÄúThe kids ran with passion today,âÄù assistant coach Gary Wilson said. âÄúThe biggest part of the weekend, obviously, was having Gabe [Anderson] being there and able to anchor those relays.âÄù Anderson was competing in her first Drake relays since returning from treatment for cancer. âÄú[The 4-by-800] has been a nice tradition the last few years,âÄù WiIson said. âÄúI think kids aspire to [be on that team]. âÄúI think we certainly met our expectations and I talked with [head coach Matt Bingle ] and I know heâÄôs pleased with his kids. âĦ It was the Gabe Anderson show as far as I was concerned.âÄù Next weekend many of the distance runners will take a break from competition, according to Wilson, with other athletes from the womenâÄôs team competing Friday at Brigham Young UniversityâÄôs Missouri Triangular in Provo, Utah.