Monday, June 04, 2007

Vega to End Gopher Career in NCAA 10,000

Gopher senior Antonio Vega, an all-American and former region champ in cross country, will cap his Minnesota career in the 10,000 meters on Thursday at the NCAA Division I Championships in Sacramento, California.

The Tartan High School grad was the 25th and final runner accepted into championships field -- in which Oregon's Galen Rupp is the #1 seed at 27:33.48. But Gopher cross country and distance coach Steve Plascencia thinks all-America distinction is a realistic possibility for Vega who enters the meet with a personal best 29:04.13 seed.

"He tells me that he feels good in his workouts and has recovered well from a 10,000m April 29 and a 10,000 and 5,000 two weeks later," Plascenia told DtB via e-mail. "A number of other guys who have posted times faster than his might have done that back in March and who knows how things are going now. With a good day, All-American on the track is a good goal for Antonio."

Plascencia expects he and his team will miss Vega (pictured) when the athlete's Gopher career ends after the lap 25 in Sacramento.

"I told the rest of my runners in meetings this spring, 'take a long look at this guy because he will be leaving us after June.' He is a leader by his actions and example, we will miss his ethic," the Gopher coach said.

Vega will be making his NCAA track championship debut this week. His high-water mark in the 10,000 so far came in 2005 when finished third in the Big Ten 10,000. In the fall of 2005 he won the NCAA Midwest Regional in cross country and was an all-American with his 44th place finish at the NCAA Championships.

"Early on during his time a the university," Plascencia said, "I saw a drive in him that has been present in most of the guys who have been successful in our program. He has never been a guy who has done great gobs of volume and probably only hits 80 miles per week for short periods."

"We found that he had some success as a sophomore and then we ran him more he had back injury and tired legs. So we have always incorporated water running on a weekly basis in his program and more quality than volume. He does a good amount of core work and other general strength. When he is fit he is strong with very little body fat. He is light and can get into and hold a tempo-- more of a 10k and potentially marathon runner."

The Gopher men will send four athletes to NCAAs. Joining Vega will be the busy Derek Gearman, who will compete in the long, triple, and high jumps, quarter-miler Aaron Buzard, who placed eighth in the event last year, and Adam Schnaible who will put the shot and throw the hammer in his NCAA debut.

Entry lists for the NCAA meet are available HERE.

A Track and Field News formchart can be found HERE.

Photo courtesy of the University of Minnesota.

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