By Ben Gotz, Athletic Communications Student Assistant
After finishing seventh at the 2013 Big Ten Indoor Championships, the Gophers are hoping a little bit of experience goes a long way. Over half of the track and field athletes that will compete at the 2014 B1G indoor championship also competed at last year's championships, and many of them are poised to take a big leap this time around.
The Gopher women are seeded high in several of the track events, sometimes with several Gophers near the top of the list. Here are some events loaded with Gophers to keep an eye on as the B1G championship gets underway this Friday and Saturday:
Four Gopher pentathletes are set to compete, including three seeded in the top 10. The highest seeded Gopher is junior Jess Herauf who ranks third with 4,008 points. Sophomore Alex Beckman is seeded seventh with 3,669 points, and she looks poised to improve upon her 14th place finish from last year.
Rounding out the Gopher contingent for this event is freshmen Audra Winter, seeded eighthth, and sophomore Amanda Beckman, seeded 17th.
1 Mile Run
The mile looks to be a strong event for the Gophers, as they have four runners seeded in the top 12. The Gophers' highest seed belongs to senior Maggie Bollig, listed fifth with a time of 4:46.49. Following Bollig is the only Gopher with Big Ten championship mile experience, sophomore Becca Dyson, who is seeded 10th with a time of 4:50.89.
The other two runners for the Gophers, freshmen Haley Johnson and senior Kaitlin Mincke, are seeded 11th and 12th, respectively.
The 400-meter dash features two Gophers who competed in this event last year, and they both are looking to make big improvements in their finishes this year. Senior Megan Geyen finished 11th at the 2013 Big Ten Championships last year, but she has dropped almost a full second off her time and is currently seeded fifth in the event with a 54.41.
Junior Jessica Waldvogel is seeded 15th in the event after finishing 18th last year with a time of 56.66. Freshmen Titania Markland is the final Gopher competing in the event, seeded 13th with a time of 55.77.
Senior Alena Brooks is the lone Gopher competing in this event, but she is currently the favorite to win the event with a seed time of 1:28.57. Brooks finished fourth at the Big Ten Championships last year, but this year she is looking to be the first one across the finish line.
The Gophers have four runners seeded in the top 12 in the 3,000-meter run, including three returning competitors from last year. Junior Molly Kayfes and senior Laura Docherty look to repeat top-10 finishes from last year. Kayfes is seeded sixth with a time of 9:31.75 while Docherty is seeded 10th at 9:35.41.
Sophomores Becca Dyson and Kaila Urick round on the Gophers' competitors in the 3,000m. Dyson is seeded ninth with a time of 9:34.69. Meanwhile, Urick returns to the Big Ten championships much improved, as she has dropped over 20 seconds off her time from last year and is seeded 12th after finishing 27th last year.
Distance Medley Relay
Three of the Gophers' four distance medley relay team members competed in the event last year. The team of Katie Hill, Alena Brooks, Te'Shon Adderley and Maggie Bollig finished fourth last year in 11:17.94. This year, the team of Hill, junior Jessica Waldvogel, Brooks and Bollig are seeded second heading into the meet with a time of 11:12.85.
The Gophers will have four competitors in the 5,000-meter run, all seeded within the top 15 in Molly Kayfes (second), Liz Berkholtz (fourth), Laura Docherty (seventh) and Kelli Budd (15th). Docherty and Kayfes led the Gophers in the 5,000m at the 2013 Big Ten Championships, taking second and third, respectively.
Kayfes is the highest seeded Gopher at second (16:19.12), while Berkholtz has shown tremendous improvement in the event in dropping her time by almost 25 seconds to put her as the fourth seed at 16:31.86. Berkholtz finished 19th in the 5,000m at the Big Ten Championships last year. Docherty is seeded seventh, less than five seconds out of fourth at 16:36.49. Budd also returns to the B1G 5,000m stage after finishing 18th last year.
The Gophers' 4x400-meter relay team brings back three of its competitors from last year, with a final runner entering the fold to hopefully improve upon the team's fourth place finish in 2013. The Gophers are seeded third with a time of 3:38.10, with freshmen Titania Markland joining seniors Te'Shon Adderley, Alena Brooks and Megan Geyen to complete the team.
Junior Katie Murgic and sophomore Cami Gilson are both ranked in the top 10 in the pole vault. Murgic is seeded sixth at 13-02.25 (4.02m), and Gilson is ninth at 13-01.50 (4.00m). The duo has consistently cleared the 13-foot mark this indoor season.
Three Gophers are seeded in the top 12 in the shot put, led by redshirt freshman Kailee Kamps in eighth at 48-10.75 (14.90m) and sophomore Becci Osterdyk in ninth at 48-07.50 (14.82m). Sophomore Lyndsey Thorpe comes in 12th at 47-01.75 (14.37m).
Junior Devin Stanford returns for the Gophers in the weight throw after finishing 12th at the 2013 B1G championships. Stanford's 2014 season-best throw of 62-01.00 (18.92m) positions her as the seventh seed in this year's championship. Fellow Gophers Lyndsey Thorpe (15th), Angie Guenther (19th) and Kailee Kamps (23rd) are also set to compete.
The 2014 Big Ten Indoor Championships get underway at 9 a.m. CT Friday at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio. Action continues at 9 a.m. CT Saturday.