GENEVA, Ohio -- The No. 10 Minnesota women's track & field team won the program's fourth indoor and sixth overall Big Ten Conference Track & Field Championship on Saturday. Led by Kaitlyn Long's weight throw title and runner-up showings in the 600m, mile, and pole vault, the Golden Gophers scored 91.50 points in the team race for a convincing team victory.
Minnesota defeated team runner-up Purdue by 11.50 points as the Boilermakers recorded 80 points for second place. Ohio State and Indiana tied for third with 75 points apiece while Iowa (74 points) rounded out the top five B1G women's teams.
"It was just a special effort," director of women's track & field and cross country Matt Bingle said. "The big thing is that everybody bought into the vision and everybody competed. It wasn’t about winning, it was about competing and executing. We had our ups and downs, and people kept fighting for each other.
"On this team, they all love each other. They may not always get along, but they love each other. I can’t wait to get to practice every day. The staff loves being with them. That’s what makes it so special for this group."
Kaitlyn Long used a career-best throw of 24.37m (79-11.50) to win the weight throw, improve on her own Minnesota program record, and move into second in the NCAA this season. The Gophers scored 23 points in the weight throw as Agnes Esser (21.50m, 70-06.50) and Nayoka Clunis (21.48m, 70-05.75) were third and fourth, followed by Temi Ogunrinde (20.19m, 66-03.00) in seventh.
Titania Markland, Madeline Strandemo, and Karlie Place all secured runner-up finishes to join Long in leading Minnesota. Markland ran a career-best time of 1:26.75 to place second in the 600m while Strandemo ran 4:46.77 as runner-up in the mile. Place finished second in pole vault on day one of the meet as well.
At the conclusion of day one of the meet, Minnesota was in fourth in the team standings with 25 points. It did not take long for the Gophers to take the lead on day two, and the Maroon & Gold never looked back. The first three events on Saturday saw the Gophers earn 44.50 points in high jump, weight throw, and the mile to take a lead over then-second place Wisconsin, 69.50 to 49 points.
"When we woke up this morning, it was pretty tight to start the day," Bingle said. "We came out and picked up a lot of points early. In the first three events, we probably picked up 15 points from where we thought we would be. It took off from there, and we just had to maintain what we thought we could do. They came out and set the tone early with the high jump, the weight throw, and the mile. Everybody bought in at that moment."
Minnesota earned two top-four finishes in high jump as Taylor Wiebke was third (1.78m, 5-10.00) and Heta Tuuri tied for fourth (1.75m, 5-08.75). The Gophers secured a whopping 23 points in the weight throw and scored 11 points in the mile as Bethany Hasz was sixth in 4:47.58 behind Strandemo's runner-up showing.
"It was an unbelievably great team effort," Bingle said. "Obviously winning is special, but the vision for this started almost two years ago. You love it when a vision comes together. It's just so special for this team."
Other day two scoring finishes for the Gophers saw Emerald Egwim place fifth in the 400m in a season-best 52.93 seconds and Megan Hasz come in fifth in the 5,000m in a career-best 16:24.26. Rachel Schow (8.43) and Emma Spagnola (8.50) finish sixth and eighth, respectively, in the 60m hurdles as well.
The Gophers entered the final event of the day with a 15.50-point lead over then second-place Indiana, 89.50 to 74 points. Minnesota's 4x400m relay team of Erin Huls, Brieasha Hobbs, Egwim, and Schow ran 3:38.12 for seventh place to cap off the Gophers' B1G title and an 11.50-point win over team runner-up Purdue.
Minnesota scored points in all six possible events on day one of the B1G Championship led by Place's runner-up finish in pole vault. Kiley Sabin took fifth in the shot put, and Ayesha Champagnie was sixth in long jump. On the track, the Gophers placed sixth in the distance medley relay as Abby Kohut-Jackson, Titania Markland, Val Larson, and Madeline Strandemo ran 11:25.67.
Minnesota picked up four points in the pentathlon behind two scoring finishes as Sofie Albrechtsen took sixth with a season-best score of 3,843 points and Ashley Ramacher scored a career-high 3,788 points to place eighth.
This year's team trophy marks the Gophers' first Big Ten indoor title since 2009 after Minnesota won three-straight indoor titles in 2007, 2008, and 2009. Most recently, Minnesota tied with Michigan for the 2016 Big Ten outdoor title.
The 2018 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championship will be held on Friday, March 9 and Saturday, March 10 in College Station, Texas.
Gophers' B1G Scoring Finishes
1. Kaitlyn Long, weight throw, 24.37m, 79-11.50 (10 points)
2. Madeline Strandemo, mile, 4:46.77 (8 points)
2. Titania Markland, 600m, 1:26.75 (8 points)
2. Karlie Place, pole vault, 4.18m, 13.08.50 (8 points)
3. Taylor Wiebke, high jump, 1.78m, 5-10.00 (6 points)
3. Agnes Esser, weight throw, 21.50m, 70-06.50 (6 points)
4. Nayoka Clunis, weight throw, 21.48m, 70-05.75 (5 points)
T4. Heta Tuuri, high jump, 1.75m, 5-08.75 (4.50 points)
5. Megan Hasz, 5,000m, 16:24.26 (4 points)
5. Emerald Egwim, 400m, 52.93 (4 points)
5. Kiley Sabin, shot put, 16.58m, 50-02.50 (4 points)
6. Bethany Hasz, mile, 4:47.58 (3 points)
6. Rachel Schow, 60m hurdles, 8.43 (3 points)
6. Ayesha Champagnie, long jump, 5.95m, 19-06.25 (3 points)
6. Sofie Albrechtsen, pentathlon, 3,843 (3 points)
6. Abby Kohut-Jackson, Titania Markland, Val Larson, Madeline Strandemo, distance medley relay, 11:25.67 (3 points)
7. Erin Huls, Brieasha Hobbs, Emerald Egwim, Rachel Schow, 4x400m relay, 3:38.12 (2 points)
7. Temi Ogunrinde, weight throw, 20.19m, 66-03.00 (2 points)
7. Megan Hasz, 3,000m, 9:25.33 (2 points)
8. Bethany Hasz, 3,000m, 9:25.82 (1 point)
8. Emma Spagnola, 60m hurdles, 8.50 (1 point)
8. Ashley Ramacher, pentathlon, 3,788 (1 point)
Strandemo, Spagnola Set for USA Championship
6/19/2018 - W. Track & Field
Madeline Strandemo and Emma Spagnola are set to compete at the USA Track & Field Senior Outdoor Championships this week.
Ramacher Named B1G Freshman of the Year
6/13/2018 - W. Track & Field
Gophers redshirt freshman Ashley Ramacher has been named the Big Ten Conference Freshman of the Year.
Gophers Take 12th in Program of the Year Race
6/12/2018 - W. Track & Field
Minnesota was one of 15 NCAA Division I women's programs honored by the USTFCCCA in this year's Program of the Year standings.