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Gophers tie best finish in school history by placing third at Big Ten Indoors

Coming off of a ninth-place finish at last year’s Big Ten Indoor Track and Field Championships, Minnesota women’s track and field coach Gary Wilson said he thought his young team would do well if they could finish fifth at this year’s indoor championships.

The Gophers went beyond the expectations of even their coach at the Big Ten Championships on Saturday and Sunday in Ann Arbor, Mich., placing third with 79 points, five points ahead of fourth place Michigan, and 38.5 behind Illinois for second.

“It was just an absolutely fantastic weekend,” Wilson said. “We’ve just got a good and balanced team.”

Freshman Liz Roehrig started Minnesota on its way Saturday, taking first in the heptathlon with an NCAA provisional qualifying score of 3,801.

“It was really good and important,” she said. “Performing well at the beginning; it gets everyone else going, gets their adrenaline flowing.”

Roehrig was one of just two individual champions for Minnesota, along with junior Mollie Hupp in the 600 meters.

Hupp set a Michigan Indoor Track Building 600 meter record with a time of 1:31.57.

With just two throwers scoring points for the Gophers and only two first-place finishers, Minnesota was anchored by solid pack finishes in the running events.

After the surprising success in Michigan, Hupp said the team can carry that into the spring.

Wilson said the strong indoor finish for his young team will help act as a springboard heading into the outdoor season.

“I think they know they can play this game and play it with anybody,” he said.

And heading into the outdoor season, the team’s indoor success provides Wilson with an even rosier outlook.

“Historically, we’re a place or two better at the outdoor championships,” he said. “Another top-three finish there would be great.”

Men fifth at Big Tens

Minnesota’s men’s track and field team placed fifth during the weekend at the Big Ten Men’s Indoor Track and Field Championships in West Lafayette, Ind.

Individual highlights for the Gophers came in the heptathlon, in which Travis Brandstatter finished first and automatically qualified for the NCAA Championships, and in the high jump, in which Bryant Howe won the individual crown.

Coach Phil Lundin said that for a team he expected to finish in the second division, taking fifth was successful.

“We didn’t have the depth that we’ve had in previous years,” Lundin said. “We were able to have a good weekend moving into fifth.”

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