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A title in track

May 20, 2009


R.J. McGinnis.

The Gopher men's track and field team left its mark in Columbus, capturing the team title by 27 points over runner-up Ohio State. The Gophers also won the Big Ten indoor meet earlier this year.

Photo courtesy University Athletics

Gopher men win Big Ten track title; women finish third

The Minnesota men's track team used a 21-point performance, including a title run by Hassan Mead, in the 5,000-meter run to secure the team crown at the 2009 Big Ten Outdoor Track & Field Championships Sunday at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. The Gophers, who also won the Big Ten indoor team title, compiled 130 points, 27 better than runner-up and host Ohio State.

Mead added his fifth Big Ten individual title to his spectacular sophomore season. The Minneapolis native won the individual cross country crown last fall, the 3,000 and 5,000-meter races at the indoor Big Ten track championships, and then the 5,000 and 10,000-meter events this weekend.

Mead was the headliner in the 5,000 meters, crossing the finish line in 14 minutes, 20.75 seconds, but the Gophers once again displayed the team depth that made the difference in so many events. Junior Chris Rombough finished third in a time of 14:25.98, while Ben Blankenship placed fourth in 14:26.15.

"I can't say enough good things about Hassan," said Gopher head coach Steve Plasencia. "But he certainly wasn't the only guy to step it up this weekend. We got points from the people who we expected we would and more from a lot of other events across the board."

Junior Aaron Studt delivered in the shot put. Studt landed the winning throw, 61-6 1/4, on his fifth attempt after firing a long throw just outside the sector on the first throw of finals.

Senior Ibrahim Kabia sprinted to runner-up honors in the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.44 seconds. Kabia added a sixth-place showing in the 200 meters in 21.44 seconds.

The Gophers scored two runners in the 1,500-meter run. Blankenship finished fourth in a time of 3:58.48, while Andy Richardson placed seventh in 4:00.68. Joe McFarland chipped in a sixth-place effort in the 800 meters with a time of 1:51.44.

Minnesota scored in both hurdles events. Mike Linnemann finished sixth in the 400-meter hurdles in 53.61 seconds and Sean Duling placed eighth in the 110-meter hurdles in 14.62 seconds.

The Gophers scored in two of the three other field events contested on Sunday. Joe Plencner finished fourth in the pole vault, clearing 16-10 3/4, while Raymond Blackledge placed seventh in the triple jump with a leap of 48-9 1/2.

The Gophers will next compete at the NCAA Midwest Region Championships on May 29-30 in Norman, Oklahoma.

Gopher women narrowly miss out on "triple crown"; settle for third

The Gopher women's team came up short, placing third, in one of the closest team races in Big Ten history at the 2009 Big Ten Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships, also in Columbus. The Golden Gophers finished with 131.5 points, trailing Penn State's 139 points and Michigan's total of 138.75. The team title was decided in the final event of the meet, the 4x400-meter relay, where the Nittany Lions won to grab the team title.

"We had some very good performances today, but unfortunately it wasn't enough to overcome some of the hits we took in certain other events," said Minnesota head coach Matt Bingle. "We came close and we will always look back and think we should have won this meet. It certainly wasn't from lack of heart or effort. We needed a few more breaks and just didn't get them.

The Gophers' top finish of the day was turned in by senior Heather Dorniden, who placed second in the 800-meter run, and paced a surge of 23 team points in the event. Nikki Swenson finished third in 2:07.19, while Jamie Dittmar was fourth in 2:07.79. Dorniden also contributed a fifth-place showing in the 1,500-meter run in a time of 4:23.04.

Minnesota scored in eight of the 10 events on the track, highlighted by three Gophers tallying points in the 100-meter dash. Freshman Kylie Peterson placed third in a time of 11.81 seconds, Nyoka Giles was sixth in 11.87 seconds, and Chioma Omeoga  was seventh (11.93). Giles also finished seventh in the 200 meters in a time of 24.26 seconds.

Rikita Butler added her name the list of regional qualifiers by running a school-record time of 53.88 seconds in the 400 meters to place third. Butler is the 26th individual Gopher to notch a qualifying mark for the NCAA Midwest Region Championships.

The discus was the Gophers' headlining field event on Sunday as Minnesota collected three scoring performances. Sophomore Nikki Tzanakis led the way with a third-place finish in the discus with a throw of 152-8. Amanda Solberg tallied a fifth-place finish with a throw of 148-4, while Hannah Studt was seventh at 145-7.

The women's team will next compete at the NCAA Midwest Region Championships on May 29-30 in Norman.
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1,001 and counting

The Minnesota baseball team (35-15, 17-6) dropped a 10-8 decision at Penn State (25-26, 8-16) in its regular-season finale on Saturday, May 16. With the loss and an Ohio State win, the Golden Gophers lost out on a chance to clinch the Big Ten regular-season championship. Minnesota will enter the Big Ten Tournament as a No. 2 seed, which will give the Golden Gophers a first-round bye.

Two days earlier, Gopher head coach John Anderson became the 39th head coach in Division I history to claim 1,000 career victories when the Gophers beat Penn State 7-6.

Anderson is the 20th head coach in Division I history to win 1,000 games with the same team, and the first in the history of the Big Ten to win 1,000 games at the same school. He is also the 10th youngest head coach in Division I history to reach 1,000 victories, and is the fifth active head coach to reach the mark with the same school.

"This has been a really special season," Anderson said. "These kids have done a great job of bouncing back from last year, and really authored a new start. I am extremely proud of what they have done this year, and it is enjoyable to share this moment with this group of players."

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