Gophers Finalize Signing Class with 12 Preps

Go Gophers! Steve Plasencia
Go Gophers!
Steve Plasencia
Go Gophers!

March 7, 2013

The Minnesota men’s track and field has signed 12 prep student-athletes including seven state champions to National Letters of Intent this season with the next crop of Golden Gophers set to compete for the Maroon and Gold starting in 2013-14.

Joining the Gophers next season are Bryan Bjerk, Jordan Charles, Eric Colvin, Trenton Daniels, Wayde Hall, Bradley Johnson, Charles Lawrence, Brad Neumann, Nathan Roese, Luca Weiland, Matthew Welch and Bradley Woodford.

“We’re very pleased with this recruiting class, and we have high expectations for what they can achieve at the college level,” Minnesota director of track and field and cross country Steve Plasencia said. “Each member of this class had an outstanding high school career, and we are excited to have them join us at the University of Minnesota.”

Bryan Bjerk

Grand Forks, N.D. | Red River High School | Throws

A native of Grand Forks, N.D., Bryan Bjerk entered the season as the top- ranked returning discus thrower in the nation and holds the North Dakota all-time state record in the event at 198-01 ft. Bjerk won the 2012 North Dakota State Track and Field title in the discus with a throw of 192-08 – setting a meet record with the winning throw – and also won the 2011 USA Track and Field Junior Olympics national title in the discus. Currently enrolled at Red River High School and competing for head track and field coach Bob Zimney, Bjerk was also a First Team All-State lineman in 2012 and won a state title as the No. 1 ranked heavyweight wrestler in the state of North Dakota this year.

Jordan Charles

Apple Valley, Minn. | Apple Valley High School | Jumps

A native of Apple Valley, Minn., Jordan Charles is slated to focus on jumps with the Gophers starting in 2013-14. Charles set a personal record at the 2012 Minnesota State Track and Field Meet with a triple jump of 46-01 ft., placing second in the event and later went on to win the event at the USA Track and Field Region 8 Junior Olympics with a leap of 46-00 ft. Charles also set a personal record in the 200 meters at the event with a time of 22.52. Currently enrolled at Apple Valley High School and competing for head coach Rodney Dirth, Charles won the 2012 Minnesota Section AAA triple jump at 43-09 ft. and also set a personal record in the meet’s long jump at 20-04 1/2 ft. Charles also competed in hockey and soccer for Apple Valley and helped the soccer program capture the 2012 Minnesota Class AA state title.

Eric Colvin

Stillwater, Minn. | Stillwater Area High School | Distance

A native of Stillwater, Minn., Eric Colvin joins the Gophers after helping Stillwater Area High School to back-to-back  Minnesota Class AA cross country state titles in 2011-12. The Ponies distance runner posted back-to-back top-10 finishes at the state cross country meet in his junior and senior season including a ninth-place finish as a senior in 2012. Following his prep season, Colvin qualified for the Nike National Cross Country Championships in Portland – his second-straight season in the event after competing with Stillwater in 2011. As a junior on the track, Colvin won the Suburban East Conference 3,200 meter championship with a personal record of 9:16.67 after winning the event at the 2012 True Team State Meet six days earlier. Stillwater would go on to capture the 2011 Minnesota State AA State Championship. The future Gopher competed for head coach Scott Christensen while with the Ponies and was high school teammates with fellow signee Wayde Hall.

Trenton Daniels

Brookfield, Wis. | Brookfield East High School | Mid-Distance

A native of Brookfield, Wis., Trenton Daniels helped Brookfield East High School to back-to-back Wisconsin state track and field titles in 2011 and 2012. Daniels placed fifth in 2011 and fourth in 2012 in the 400-meter dash at the state meet. He also was a state place-winner in both the 1,600 and 3,200 relays at the 2012 state meet. Daniels ran a personal-best time last year of 1:53.59 in the 800-meter run.  Daniels ran under head track and field coach Mike Steiner. The future Gopher also helped Brookfield East to its third-straight Wisconsin state soccer appearance and earned second team all-conference honors.

Wayde Hall

Stillwater, Minn. | Stillwater Area High School | Distance

The Gophers have signed the 2012 Minnesota Class 2AA State Individual Champion in Stillwater, Minn., native Wayde Hall. The distance runner helped Stillwater to back-to-back state titles after pacing the 2012 meet with a winning time of 15:21.00. The senior earned a total seven individual titles in 2012 including top honors at the 2012 Suburban East Conference Championships and the 2012 Minnesota Section 4AA Championships. Hall set a personal record in the 5,000 meters as a senior with a time of 15:14.70 in a first-place performance at the Faribault Invitational. As a junior on the track, Hall set personal records in the 3,200-meter run (9:19.68) and the 1,600-meter run (4:14.58) at the 2012 Minnesota State Track and Field Meet, placing third in both events. A runner for Stillwater head coach Scott Christensen, Hall also competed in wrestling for the Ponies. Hall prepped with fellow Gopher signee Eric Colvin.

Bradley Johnson

Brookfield, Wis. | Brookfield East High School | Mid-Distance

A native of Brookfield, Wis., Bradley Johnson will joins the Gophers after a prep career at Brookfield East High School under head cross country coach Randy Bucheger and head track and field coach Mike Steiner. With the Spartans, Johnson won the 2012 Wisconsin state title in the 800-meter run and was also a state place winner last year in both the 1,600 and 3,200 relays. His time of 1:51.43 in the 800-meter run currently stands as the fourth best all-time in Wisconsin history. The four-year letter winner helped Brookfield East to back-to-back track and field state titles in 2011 and 2012.  Johnson prepped with fellow Gopher signee Trenton Daniels at Brookfield East.

Charles Lawrence

Foley, Minn. | Foley High School | Distance

A native of Foley, Minn., Charles Lawrence joins the Gophers after concluding his prep career with a back-to-back top-five finishes at the state championships including the 2012 Minnesota State Class A 3,200 Meter State title. Lawrence was a two-time all-state honoree at Foley High School. With the Falcons, Lawrence has been guided by head track and field coach David Dahlstrom and head cross country coach Mona Bommersbach.

Brad Neumann

Peshtigo, Wis. | Peshtigo High School | Mid-Distance

The 2012 Wisconsin state champion in the 100-meters joins the Gophers next season as Peshtigo, Wis., native Brad Neumann has signed a National Letter of Intent and will enroll at the University of Minnesota. Neumann set a personal record (10.76) in the 100-meters in the prelims at the 2012 WIAA D2 State Meet before coming back to win the event in the finals at 10.88. Neumann has collected a total of four top-five finishes at the state meet level with fifth-place finishes in the 100-meters and the 200-meters as a junior in 2011 and a fifth-place finish in the 100-meters in 2010. The senior competed under Peshtigo head track and field coach Rick Neumann.

Nathan Roese

Woodbury, Minn. | East Ridge High School | Mid-Distance

A native of Woodbury, Minn., Nathan Roese is set to join the Maroon and Gold after earning the 2012 Minnesota Class AA State Title in the 400-meter dash (47.79) for East Ridge High School. Roese also added a fourth-place finish at the state track and field meet in the 200-meter run with a time of 22.15. Both times were season records for the Raptors runner. Roese’s prep career, which includes a pair of all-state honors, was guided by East Ridge head track and field coach and former Gopher runner Lloyd Ness and sprinting coach Shannon Rainey. Roese also competed in cross country for the Raptors under head coach Chad Cronin.

Luca Weiland

Berlin, Germany | Gymnasium Rotenbuhl Saarbrucken | Multi-Events

The Gophers’ lone non-North American signee this season, Weiland joins the Gophers after competing with Gymnasium Rotenbuhl Saarbrucken in Berlin, Germany. A decathlete with personal-best score of 7,090 in the event, Weiland’s personal records include a long jump of 7.38 meters, a high jump of 1.93 meters, a pole vault of 4.10 meters, a javelin of 49.67 meters, a shot put of 13.82 meters and a discus throw of 42.32 meters. On the track, Weiland’s personal bests include a 100-meters of 10.95, a 400-meters of 52.14, and 110-meter hurdles time of 15.15 and a 1,500-meters of 5:04.00.

Matthew Welch

Duluth, Minn. | Proctor High School | Distance

A two-time First Team All-State honoree and the 2012 Minnesota State Cross Country champion, Matthew Welch has signed a National Letter of Intent to compete for the University of Minnesota starting in 2013-14 after completing his prep career at Proctor High School. Welch was named the 2012-13 Gatorade Minnesota Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year while also posting a pair of top-10 finishes at the 2012 Minnesota State Track and Field Meet including a second-place finish in the 3,200-meters. The senior also finished sixth in the 1,600-meters at the state meet last year after winning both the 1,600-meters and the 3,200-meters in the Minnesota Section 7A finals.  . Welch was guided in his prep career by head track and field coach Lowell Harnell at Proctor.

Bradley Woodford

Waukesha, Wis. | Waukesha South High School | Distance

A native of Waukesha, Wis., Bradley Woodford joins the Gophers after prepping for head cross country coach Darrell Gramdorf and head track and field coach Ken Sumbry. As a senior in 2012, Woodford posted a tenth-place finish at the Wisconsin State Cross Country Championships and has a personal record in the 5,000 meters of 15:39.79. In his final year of high school cross country competition, Woodford posted top-10 finishes in each of the six meets he raced in, including top honors at the Matt Hadler Memorial Invitational in his season debut. Woodford also posted a sixth-place finish at the Wisconsin state meet as a junior in 2011. On the track, Woodford set personal records in the 1,600-meter run (4:10.89) and the 3,200-meter run (9:20.29) at the 2012 WIAA Track and Field State Championships, finishing third and sixth, respectively.