Women’s track finishes third, men fourth, at Big Ten championships

by David La Vaque

Trailing Michigan by three points going into the final event of the Big Ten Outdoor championships, the 4X400 relay, Minnesota caught a break when a Wolverine runner dropped the baton on the last turn.

The Gophers finished fourth in the race and the five points scored allowed Minnesota to surpass Michigan to finish third with 101.25 points.

Host Indiana won the meet with 140 points while Purdue finished second with 122.50 points.

“The kids did a great job all three days,” Gophers coach Gary Wilson said. “We were seeded sixth going into the meet, but they battled hard all the way through.”

Minnesota led the field after the first day, thanks to solid performances by Corinne Nimtz in the 10,000-meter run (second place), Erica Findlay in the pole vault (fourth) and the triple threat of Brenda Meyer (second), Aubrey Schmitt (third) and Angie Hill (fifth) in the hammer throw.

The Gophers concluded day two in second place, highlighted by Schmitt’s second place finish in the shot put, ending her reign of three-consecutive titles in the event.

Shani Marks kicked off the final day with a win in the triple jump. She also posted a third place finish in the 400-meter hurdles.

Schmitt was the runner-up in the discus and Jessica Shuster ran to a third-place finish in the 800-meter.

“We had nobody in the short sprints which is where Indiana is good,” Marks said. “We need to be healthy, because we’re a pretty well-rounded team.”

Added Schmitt: “I really thought we were capable of winning it, and we put everything we had into this. Some things didn’t go as well as planned but overall we can be proud.”

Men’s track and field

The Gophers set four new school records, turned in one automatic and several provisional NCAA championships in Bloomington, Ind., over the weekend.

Powering Minnesota’s fourth-place finish was senior Tom Gerding, who placed second in both the 200 and 400-meter dashes, and ran a leg of both the 4×100 and 4×400-meter relays – the latter winning the Big Ten title.

Gerding automatically qualified for the national championships in the 400-meter dash.

Points also came from Jason Owen and Toby Henkels, who finished third and fifth in the 800-meter run, respectively.

Freshman Mikael Jakobsson set a new school record with his fifth-place finish in the 400-meter hurdles, provisionally qualifying for the NCAA meet.

In the field, Mark Fahey failed to reclaim the Big Ten discus title, finishing second. After winning the Big Ten indoor title in the high jump, Marc Johannsen placed third outdoors.

David La Vaque is the sports editor and welcomes comments at [email protected].