Monday, May 17, 2010

Gopher Men Defend Big Ten Championship;
Minnesota Women Finish Runners-Up

The University of Minnesota men's track and field team won its second straight Big Ten outdoor title with a 145 to 124 victory over Wisconsin over the weekend.

The victory gives the Golden Gophers a double-double -- they've now won indoor and outdoor titles in the conference the last two years running.

The Gopher women finished second in the Big Ten women's meet. Penn State's win in the final event of the day sealed a 133.5 to 123 win for the Nittany Lions, who were conference indoor champions as well.

Gopher Men Extend Steak

Micah Hegerle, Ben Peterson, and R.J. McGinnis won individual Big Ten titles for the Gopher men. Hegerle won the hammer throw during the opening day of competition with a mark of 208-2. On the same day, Peterson won the Big Ten pole vault crown with a clearance of 17-8 1/2. On Saturday, McGinnis won the decathlon with 7381 points.

The Gophers, who were competing without stars Hassan Mead (injury) and Aaron Studt (redshirt), entered Sunday's final day of competition with a 63-point lead. A resurgent Wisconsin made a bold run at the eventual champions, but the Gophers held off the Badgers, despite not winning any additional individual titles on Sunday.

Runner-up finishes on Sunday from Trey Davis in the shot put, Raymond Blackledge in the triple jump, and Chris Rombough in the 5000m, however, ultimately brought the Big Ten title back to Minneapolis.

“I’m proud of this team,” head coach Steve Plasencia said. “We had some great performances from a lot of people this weekend. What can I say, we did it again!”

Gopher Women Come Close

Like the men, the Gopher women led the team standings for much of the three-day meet, hosted by Indiana University. The team got victories in the first day from Megan Duwell in the 10,000m with 34:04.29 and DeAnne Hahn in the hammer throw with 185-8.

During Saturday's competition, the team earned a surprise victory in the long jump after #7-seeded Todea-Kay Willis jumped 20-9 1/4 -- a PR by more than a foot -- for the win.

The Gophers didn't have any event winners on Sunday, but Gabriele Anderson's gutsy runner-up effort in the 1500m was emblematic of the team's strong performance, and eventual defeat.

Racing against the reigning NCAA cross country champion Angela Bizzarri, Anderson, who a year ago was beginning a fight with cancer and was unable to continue what would have been her final season as a Gopher, battled the Illionois senior to finish-line in the 1500m. After a delay in determining the winner, Bizzarri was awarded the win by .01.

The Gophers trailed Penn State by five-and-a-half points entering the 4 x 400m relay, but the Nittany Lions victory in the event sealed the title.

“We really came together as a team this weekend,” Gopher head coach Matt Bingle said. “Of course, you want to leave with the team title, but how can you be disappointed when this team put forth great effort and displayed such heart. We led for most of the meet. You have to give credit to Penn State for staying after it.”

Find complete results of the meet HERE.

Find daily wrap-ups of the Gopher men's competition HERE.

Find daily wrap-ups of the Gopher women's competition HERE.

There's a photo gallery from the meet HERE.

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