If the University of Minnesota men's track and field team is to defend its Big Ten Indoor title, it will do so without 2009 conference 3000 and 5000 meter champion Hassan Mead.
Mead, who has yet to race in 2010, was expected to compete this weekend nonetheless, as the U of M hosts the 2010 Big Ten Indoor Championships. Competition gets underway tomorrow morning and culminates Sunday.
The Gopher Big Ten meet media release earlier this week featured Mead's participation. Big Ten rules would have allowed the Minneapolis South alum to compete without a seed time.
When heat sheets were released yesterday, however, Mead was not entered in either Saturday's 5000 or Sunday's 3000 meter events.
The loss of Mead, while significant, may not prove crippling to the Gophers' title defense. The team will still returns 87 of the 135 points it won last year's meet with. Back from the 2009 Big Ten triumph are shot put champion Aaron Studt, heptathlon winner R.J. McGinnis, and high jump victor Matt Fisher.
In addition, the Gophers, who will compete before a sell-out home crowd at the U of M Fieldhouse, feature 2008 Big Ten pole vault champ Ben Peterson, who missed last year's meet with injury.
The Gophers can expect a strong battle from surprising Indiana, ranked #7 in the country, #11 Penn State, and #20 Ohio State. Wisconsin, which won eight consecutive Big Ten Indoor titles prior to Minnesota's title last year, can't be discounted either.
The Gophers enter the meet ranked #17 in NCAA Division I.
Heat sheets for the meet can be found HERE.
The Gophers' official meet preview (from earlier in the week) is HERE.
There's a feature on high jumper Matt Fisher HERE.
The official meet site, where live results will posted on Saturday and Sunday, is HERE.
Down the Backstretch ... will be on-site at the meet this weekend. Look for updates over the weekend and a full wrap-up of all the Big Ten action on Monday.