The Gophers men’s track and field team competed at multiple venues once again this weekend, sending the majority of the team to Iowa City, Iowa, for the Musco Twilight and several elite distance runners to Stanford, Calif., for the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational .
This was the last weekend against Division I competition for Minnesota as it prepares for the Big Ten outdoor championship.
Micah Hegerle continued his strong rookie campaign by winning the hammer throw at the Musco Twilight, recording a distance of 211 feet, 5 inches. The throw is Hegerle’s career best and ranks second in Gophers history .
“This season is going very well for [Hegerle],” assistant coach Paul Thornton said. “His finishes just continue to show where he is developmentally. He’s really become a student of the event.”
Hegerle also added a second-place finish in the discus at the competition.
The other Minnesota athlete to win an event at the Musco was Raymond Blackledge , who won the triple jump by leaping 47-11.
The top tier of Minnesota’s distance runners attended the Payton Jordan this weekend in hopes of finding stiff competition. While there were no individual event winners, the Gophers athletes amassed multiple personal-record times in their respective events.
One such runner was Chris Rombough , who recorded a time of 13 minutes, 48.80 seconds in the 5,000-meter run. With the time, Rombough moved into third place in school history for the event, passing current head coach and former track standout Steve Plasencia on the all-time list.
Middle-distance runner and Minnesota mile record-holder Ben Blankenship set a personal best time in the 1,500 with a time of 3:41.96.
Freshman Harun Abda also set a personal record time by running the 800 in 1:48.62. The mark establishes a new freshman record in the event for Minnesota.
“Harun has got a boatload of talent,” Plasencia said. “He’s just going to continue to get stronger and stronger. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get more personal records when the time is right.”
This weekend continued a blistering freshman season for Abda, as the 800 was his third freshman record-breaking performance in the event.
Mike Torchia and Matt Barrett both set personal records in the 5,000, according to Plasencia.
Travis Burkstrand also set an outdoor personal record in the 800, finishing third in his section.
“We’re very happy for guys to get [personal records] and continue to run well, but we’re going to have to continue to do that two weeks from now,” Plasencia said.
The distance runners will join the rest of the Minnesota squad and compete in the Big Ten outdoor championships on May 14-16 in Bloomington, Ind.
“Our goal all season has been to be prepared for the Big Ten, and I feel both meets this weekend helped set us up for accomplishing that goal,” Thornton said.
Women win 10 events at Iowa’s Musco
The Gophers women’s track and field team didn’t miss a beat after a last-minute scheduling change resulted in the team calling off the Missouri Triangular in Provo, Utah . Many competitors instead headed to the Musco Twilight, with several of the top competitors who competed at Drake Relays last week taking the weekend off from competition.
Minnesota won 10 events, including multiple two-event winners . Rikita Butler paced the field as she won the 400 in a time of 54.99 seconds. Butler teamed up with Kelly Stalpes , Alena Brooks and Adrienne Thomas to win the 4-by-400-meter relay.
Stalpes also won the 400 hurdles, and Thomas took the title in the long jump. The final multiple-event winner was Kylie Peterson , who won the 100 a time of 11.58 seconds. Peterson was also a member of the first-place 4-by-100 relay team.
In addition to their success on the track, the Gophers also did well in the field events, notching four victories overall.
Jessica Cagle won the discus with a throw of 164-7. DeAnne Hahn won the second throwing title of the meet for Minnesota, winning the hammer throw with a distance of 182-6.
All-American Alicia Rue , who has struggled in her senior season, received first place in the pole vault competition by clearing a height of 13-1 1/2. Kelsey Joson capped off the impressive meet for the Gophers, winning the triple jump with a distance of 37-4 1/2.
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