Senior Kaitlyn Long helped bring a Big Ten Indoor Championship to Minnesota for the first time since 2009.
Long won the weight throw competition with a career-best 79 feet, 11inches. The No. 10 Gophers beat out all other conference competition with 91.50 points, on their way to becoming champions in Geneva, Ohio on Friday and Saturday.
“It’s good to get back to winning,” head coach Matt Bingle said. “It’s a huge blessing and obviously there’s a lot of sacrifice from everybody that goes into winning and everybody buys in.”
Weight throw was a big part of the Gophers winning this weekend. Besides Long, senior Agnes Esser threw 70 feet, 6.5 inches to finish third, junior Nayoka Clunis threw 70 feet, 5.8 inches to finish fourth and redshirt junior Temi Ogunrinde threw 66 feet, 3 inches to finish seventh. Long improved on her program record with a first-place finish.
“Since I’ve transferred to the [University of Minnesota], I’ve been working really well with my main coach Peter [Miller],” Long said. “I think the biggest difference is my teammates, we had four girls in the top seven in one of the top conferences in the country, so practice with them every day really pushes me and we’re all very supportive of each other.”
Long will be competing in the NCAA championships two weeks from now.
Redshirt seniors Madeline Strandemo and Titania Markland and senior Karlie Place all finished second in their events to help Minnesota win. Strandemo ran a 4:46.77 in the mile, Markland ran a 1:26.75 in the 600-meter and Place had a pole vault of 4.18 meters.
Markland, who redshirted last year, beat her personal record in the 600-meter with a time of 1:28.12 on Friday. Then, she beat her personal record again on Saturday with a time of 1:26.75.
“Taking the 2017 season off was rough, you see your teammates going out to compete and represent the school and you’re left behind just to cheer them on, that was really rough for me,” Markland said. “In the grand scheme of things, I knew that the plan was to get better for this season, so I had to keep on working so I guess it paid off.”