Promising talent has men’s track eager to step outside

Brian Hall

As Minnesota men’s track and field coach Phil Lundin puts it, sophomore Mitch Potter is the “King of Dings.”

Potter has gone under the knife seven times, including surgery on each foot, and has suffered from numerous muscle pulls.

But when one of the top Gophers runners is healthy and upbeat there is reason for optimism as the team competes in the early portion of its outdoor season.

This season has been different. Potter might have finally squashed the injury bug beneath his track shoes.

“I have still been hurting a little bit,” Potter said. “But, the past couple of weeks I have been fairly healthy. This is probably the best week of training in my two years here.”

Added Lundin, “It’s been his strongest training in a full year. He is a huge talent and he is bringing his talent to fruition.”

However, Potter’s talent is only one key to Minnesota’s success.

Including Potter, eight Gophers received All-American status during the indoor season, breaking the record of six, set last season.

The 4×400-meter relay team of sophomore Mikael Jakobsson, junior Andy Wohlin, sophomore Adam Steele and Potter finished fourth at the NCAA indoor championships.

Minnesota’s distance medley relay team of Toby Henkels, Bob Quade, Ryan Ford and Andrew McKessock took sixth place and Potter also earned individual honors for a ninth-place showing in the 400-meter dash.

Potter is now a five-time All-American in just three seasons (two indoor, one outdoor) for the Gophers.

“We will be better in the outdoor season,” Potter said. “We are improving week by week. We could have won the indoor Big Tens and now we all expect it out of ourselves.

“When I think about the outdoor season I get a big smile on my face. I expect a lot out of myself.”

Minnesota began to flex its muscle at the Big Ten indoor championships. The Gophers led the competition after the first day before the meet was cancelled due to Penn State pole-vaulter Kevin Dare’s death.

While the conference cancelled its meet due to the tragic events, Minnesota’s athletes are using the meet as added incentive because they were unable to finish what they started.

“We are really jacked up for this season,” Ford said. “With how the indoor season ended and not being able to finish what we started, it has given us more motivation for the outdoor season. We will be good.”

Lundin also said the team will be better due to the addition of several strictly outdoor events such as the javelin, discus and intermediate distance runs and hurdles.

“We are pretty spread out with our scoring,” Lundin said. “We have more presence in the field events than we have had in the last couple of years. We are evaluated on the Big Ten meet and NCAA qualifiers.

“We have many national caliber athletes.”

Minnesota continues its outdoor season this weekend as it sends decathletes Lyndon McDowell and Jesse Madsen and throwers Karl Erickson and Lynden Reder to the Texas Relays. The remainder of the team will be competing at Hamline University if weather permits.

Down for the stretch

Freshman Andrew Newman will redshirt the outdoor season.

Newman hyperextended his left knee and will have knee surgery to repair a damaged anterior cruciate ligament.

Merritt ailing

Freshman Robb Merritt suffered a sports hernia and Lundin is waiting for a doctor’s analysis before deciding whether to redshirt the sprinter.

Brian Hall covers track and field and welcomes
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