Friday, February 26, 2010

Gopher Women Looking for Title #4

Can they do it four times in a row?

That's the question facing the University of Minnesota women's track and field team as they travel to Penn State for this weekend's Big Ten Women's Indoor Championships.

The Gophers, winners of three-straight Big Ten indoor titles, seek to do for Minnesota what only the Gopher men's tennis team has done before -- win the conference four straight years.

Hosts Penn State, ranked #10 nationally, are favorites. #19 Indiana, #29 Minnesota, and #32 Wisconsin are strong contenders.

To win it all again, the Gopher women will need to have their veterans step up and some new faces step forward. Gone from the squad are athletes like Heather Dorniden, Liz Roehrig, Liz Alabi, Jamie Cheever, and Julie Schwengler who were so important in previous Gopher titles.

The Gopher women return only 54 of the 129 points they won last year's meet with. Correspondingly, 21 of the teams' 32 participants are freshman or sophomores, and 13 athletes are suited up for their first-ever Big Ten Championships.

If the Gophers are to prevail, their success will likely be powered by three main point sources: the pole vault, the sprints, and the long distance events.

In the vault, the Gophers boast three or the meet's top five seeds, including #1-seed and three-time Big Ten champion Alicia Rue. Samantha Sonnenberg is seeded #4 and Becca Pilkerton is #5.

In 2009, the Gophers young sprint corps scored 13 points in the 60 meters alone. A year older and a year faster, mining additional points from the short races and the relays could prove vital for Minnesota. Kylie Peterson enters the meet seeded #2 at 60m.

In the long events, the Gophers will look to all-Americans Megan Duwell and Amy Laskowske for production. The two are scheduled to double in the 3000 and 5000 meter events. Duwell is a two-time cross country all-American, while Laskowske was an all-American at 10,000 meters last spring.

Heat sheets for the meet can be found HERE.

The Gophers' official meet preview is HERE.

The official meet site, where live results will posted on Saturday and Sunday, is HERE.

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