Thursday, February 23, 2012

Gopher Men Seek a Fourth Big Ten Crown

The venue is new, but the goal remains the same for the Gophers.

The University of Minnesota men's track and field team is headed to Lincoln, Nebraska, the newest locale on the conference map, seeking a fourth-straight Big Ten Indoor Track and Field title.

Hosts Nebraska, newcomers to the conference this year, along with Indiana and Ohio State are tabbed as the major challengers to another Gopher win.

The Gopher men, currently ranked #8 in NCAA Division I, hope to put themselves back atop the conference heap after a narrow loss at the 2011 Big Ten Outdoor Championships which snapped a their string of consecutive Big Ten indoor and outdoor track wins at five.

The meet gets underway tomorrow and concludes on Saturday. For the first time in conference history the Big Ten men's and women's championships will be held at one venue.

Last year, the Gopher women finished 3rd at the Big Ten Indoor Championships.

The Gopher men's team will look to mine a lode of points from it's star middle-distance running tandem of Harun Abda and David Pachuta. The Gopher pair are the top-ranked 800-meter runners in the country.

Likewise, veteran distance runner Hassan Mead, will be in the spotlight for the Gophers in the long distance events. Reigning Big Ten Field Event Athlete of the Week Micah Hegerle, the top-ranked weight-thrower in the conference, will also play a key role in the title defense.

The Gopher men, however, will be without two-time Big Ten mile champion Ben Blankenship. The Stillwater alum is recovering from a stress fracture to his sacrum.

The Minnesota Daily has a comprehensive preview of the men's and women's meet HERE.

Complete Big Ten performance lists can be found HERE.

Follow the results from Lincoln HERE.

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