Swenson takes a stab at Big Ten title

Jason Swenson just missed a javelin title last year, but he has a good start this time.

by Matt Anderson

This is Jason Swenson’s last chance.

The Minnesota men’s track and field senior has one more season to capture the Big Ten outdoor title in javelin that narrowly eluded him last year, when he came in second.

And despite more obstacles in his way this season, he’s started on the right foot.

Swenson has already qualified for the NCAA Midwest Region Championships, throwing 204-6 at the Jim Click Shootout in Tucson, Ariz., last month. That throw earned him Big Ten men’s track athlete of the week honors.

Assistant coach Scott Bennett said Swenson is helped by reaching the NCAA regional qualifying mark early in the season.

“Sometimes, when you’re trying to chase a qualifying performance, you back off at certain opportune meets, so that you can have a good performance and qualify,” he said. “Now that we have that done, we can work hard and maybe even still go to a meet a little tired.”

Coming into the season, Swenson, a heptathlete in the indoor season, said he was able to stay in javelin shape during the winter season by throwing three times a week at the indoor football practice facility.

Coach Phil Lundin said Swenson’s heptathlon training in the winter benefits him with the javelin in the spring.

“For him, we do it primarily because we want to get him into shape,” Lundin said of Swenson’s winter work. “And so, it’s good overall training for overall fitness, and I think it definitely helps him in the javelin as the year goes on.”

While Swenson has the benefit of winter training and an uninterrupted spring training cycle, there is still a lot standing between him and the conference championship.

Although he finished second last year, Iowa’s javelin thrower Bill Neumann is back after taking an injury redshirt season last year. Neumann won the javelin at the Big Tens in 2002 and 2003 and placed third at the NCAA Championships both seasons.

“Jason’s going to have to get big (personal records) this year if he wishes to beat that guy, assuming that (Neumann) is as good as he’s always been,” Lundin said. “It’s definitely a motivator.”

Another challenge Swenson faces this year is academic.

His class schedule as an electrical engineer graduating this spring might affect his performance with the javelin, he said.

However, Lundin said Swenson’s background in physics, as a former aeronautical engineering student, is part of what helps him perform on the javelin field.

“He’s a student of the sport,” Lundin said. “I think he does a pretty good job of analysis. But I do think his science background probably helps in that.”

And that could help Swenson achieve the goals Lundin has set for him this season.

“I look at the idea of trying to win a Big Ten championship and being a national qualifier,” Lundin said. “Those are not easy tasks given the quality of competition he’s up against. But I think he’s up to the task.”

Roehrig athlete of week

Women’s track and field freshman Liz Roehrig was named co-Big Ten athlete of the week after breaking the school high jump record at the Ole Miss Invitational on Saturday.

Roehrig’s leap of 5-10 3/4 topped the old mark of 5-10 set by Tracee Wolf in 1988.

Roehrig won the Big Ten pentathlon title and was named conference freshman of the year for the indoor season last month.