Looking ahead to the Big Ten Indoor Championships in Bloomington, Indiana next weekend, Gopher men's coach Phil Lundin (pictured) expects his team to be part of a battle for one of the top spots in the conference.
"Wisconsin is the team to beat," Lundin told DtB by e-mail. "I think Illinois and Indiana are strong also. We will be in the fight for top three."
Last year, the Badgers won the conference title with 124.5 points. The Gophers were runners-up with 94, edging Illinois at 93. Michigan was fourth with 76, Indiana tallied 72.
The Gophers currently hold the conference's top seeds in three events: Aaron Buzard leads the conference with his 46.57 400 meter mark, the Buzard-powered 4 x 400 relay leads the league at 3:11.90, as does the DMR at 9:44.33.
Lundin expects the team to score points "everywhere" at Big Ten's. The team has contenders across the event groups including:
-- Ibrahim Kabia, ranked #6 in the 60m at 6.82
-- Hans Storvick, #5 at 800m at 1:50.93
-- Chris Rombough, #7 in the mile at 4:04.95
-- Derek Gearman, #2 in the high jump, tied for #4 in the long jump, and #6 in the triple jump
-- Matt Fisher, #3 in the high jump at 6-11 1/2
-- Ben Peterson, tied for #6 in the pole vault at 16-1 1/4
-- Aaron Studt, 6th in the shot put at 56-5 1/4
-- Adam Schnaible, #3 in the weight throw at 65-4 1/4
Lundin noted that the team's youngsters were the surprise of the season so far.
"I think our freshmen have done a good job," he said. "Aaron Studt in the throws, Matt Fisher and Ben Peterson in the vertical jumps, Mike Torchia in the distances, and Logan Stroman in the 400-600m are all capable of scoring in the Big Ten."
"Chris Rombough, Aaron Buzard, Derek Gearman, Walter Langkau, and Adam Schnaible have all shown the ability to compete at the national level," Lundin added. "Andy Bastian has developed into one of the top throwers in the Big Ten."
The Gopher's have a final home meet Friday, the Snowshoe Open, before Big Tens February 24 and 25.
Photo courtesy of the U of M.