May 31, 2014
FAYETEVILLE, Ark. (GopherSports.com) – The University of Minnesota men’s track & field program will send five competitors to the 2014 NCAA Men’s and Women’s Outdoor Track & Field Championships next month in Eugene, Ore., after standout performances this weekend at the 2014 NCAA West Prelims this weekend.
Simons and Howard join Jon Lehman (hammer throw), Wally Ellenson (high jump) and Zach Siegmeier (pole vault) as representatives of the University of Minnesota heading to the national championships, June 11-14.
“Overall we had a really good weekend. Our five guys moving on to Eugene turned in great performances, and we also had some really good showings from guys who closed out their seasons this weekend,” Minnesota Director of Men’s Track & Field and Cross Country Steve Plasencia said. “John and Dom (Dominique) both really had great days today for us to round out the weekend, and it’s great to have four seniors leading us to Eugene as well as a sophomore All-American in Wally.”
A fifth-year senior for the Gophers, Simons set a personal record and ran the third-fastest 1,500 meters in Minnesota history in the 1,500 meter quarterfinals on Saturday to qualify for the semifinals next month. A native of Hartland, Wis., Simons clocked a 3:40.56 – less than a second off Ben Blankenship’s school record of 3:39.77 – to finish third overall in the quarterfinals.
Howard, meanwhile, will make his first career appearance at the NCAA championships after finishing sixth overall in the discus on Saturday. The Ames, Iowa native hit 58.42 meters (191-08 ft.) at John McDonnell Field to qualify for the national competition next month.
The Gophers closed out the 2014 NCAA West Prelims with a 16h-place finish in the 4x400 meter relay. The squad of Jacob Capek, Mitchell Hechsel, Nate Roese and Bradley Johnson turned in a time of 3:07.95 – less than a second off the qualifying time for the NCAA championships.
Blankenship, Mead Shine in Olympic Finals
Mead and Blankenship recorded the best Olympic finishes by Gophers since Staffan Strand finished sixth in the high jump for Sweden during the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.
Blankenship Punches Ticket to Olympic Final
Ben Blankenship (1,500) and Hassan Mead (5,000) will run in Olympic finals on Saturday night.
Mead Moves on to Olympic 5,000 Final
Mead races in the 5,000 meter final at Olympic Stadium on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. CT.