March 1, 2014
GENEVA, Ohio - Senior Alena Brooks became Minnesota's first indoor Big Ten Conference champion since 2011 with a first-place finish in the 600-meter dash at the SPIRE Institute Saturday afternoon. Brooks recorded a career-best time of 1:26.73 to earn the first B1G crown of her career.
Brooks edged Nebraska's Shawnice Williams (1:26.98) by less than .20 seconds en route to Minnesota's lone B1G title. With her time of 1:26.73, Brooks set a new Minnesota indoor 600m record, a new Big Ten Conference record, a Big Ten championship meet record and a SPIRE Institute facility record.
"Alena's performance was pretty unbelievable," director of women's cross country and track and field Matt Bingle said. "She ran 1:29 on Friday, and then she ran a 2:05 in the DMR, and today she broke the meet record, the Big Ten record and the school record in the 600m and came back and ran her tail off in the 4x400m. She did exactly what we told her to do. It was special. She had a special weekend, a great way for her to go out."
Brooks' title helped power the Gophers to a fourth-place team showing at the B1G indoor championships as Minnesota recorded 64.50 points. Penn State won the team title with 114.5 points, followed by Michigan (104) and Nebraska (92) ahead of the Gophers. Purdue (53) rounded out the top five. The Gophers improved three places from a seventh-place finish a year ago.
"It was just an awesome team effort and a great weekend," Bingle said. "The girls really stepped up and competed. Even the people who didn't get what they wanted, they learned a lot and they were fired up. It was just good to see the team in this position and how they took care of each other."
The Gophers received strong performances in several events Saturday as Minnesota scored points in five of the six events the Gophers competed in on the final day of competition.
Minnesota scored 18 points in the 5,000-meter run as three Gophers finished in the top five led by junior Molly Kayfes' runner-up showing. Kayfes clocked in at 16:21.06 for second place behind Michigan's Erin Finn (15:52.11).
Minnesota's 4x400-meter relay team of freshman Titania Markland, Brooks, junior Jessica Waldvogel and senior Megan Geyen broke Minnesota's school record with a third-place time of 3:36.67. The quartet improved upon the record time of 3:38.10 set at the Bill Bergan Invite earlier this season.
Redshirt sophomore Becca Dyson picked up two points for the Gophers in the mile. She took seventh with her second-straight career-best mile at 4:46.94 - the second-fastest time by a Gopher this season. Senior Kaitlin Mincke finished ninth in 4:49.66.
Junior Devin Stanford recorded a personal best in the weight throw, launching a throw of 63-05.50 (19.34m) on her first attempt. The toss was good for fourth overall, and Stanford picked up five points in the team standings for the Gophers. Stanford's throw also moved her into third in the Gopher all-time ranks.
Three Gophers earned All-Big Ten honors for their performances this weekend as Brooks picked up first-team honors and Kayfes and junior Jess Herauf, runner-up in the pentathlon, earned second-team All-Big Ten accolades.
Herauf led the Gophers on day one of B1G competition. Minnesota was in fifth place at the conclusion of Friday's competition after scoring points in the pentathlon (Herauf, second; Alex Beckman, eighth), 3,000-meter run (Docherty, fifth; Kayfes, seventh), distance medley relay (fourth) and pole vault (Katie Murgic, sixth; Cami Gilson, tied for eighth) on the first day of competition.
Prior to Brooks' title today, Samantha Sonnenberg was the Gophers' last indoor B1G champion when she won the pole vault title in 2011, clearing 13-7.75 en route to her first conference crown.
The 2014 NCAA Indoor Championships are set for March 14-15, hosted by the University of New Mexico at the Albuquerque Convention Center.
Gophers' B1G Scoring Finishes
1. Alena Brooks, 600m (1:26.73) - 10 points
2. Herauf, pentathlon (4,054) - 8 points
2. Molly Kayfes, 5,000m (16:21.06) - 8 points
3. Laura Docherty, 5,000m (16:25.18) - 6 points
3. 4x400m Relay (3:36.67) - 6 points
4. Distance Medley Relay (11:23.50) - 5 points
4. Devin Stanford, weight throw (19.34m) - 5 points
5. Laura Docherty, 3,000m (9:22.16) - 4 points
5. Liz Berkholtz, 5,000m (16:26.48) - 4 points
6. Katie Murgic, pole vault (4.00m) - 3 points
7. Molly Kayfes, 3,000m (9:24.67) - 2 points
7. Becca Dyson, mile (4:46.94) - 2 points
8. Alex Beckman, pentathlon (3,641) - 1 point
T-8. Cami Gilson, pole vault (3.95m) - 0.5 points
UCLA Up Next for Gophers
Minnesota travels to Los Angeles, Calif., for the UCLA Legends Invitational this Friday and Saturday.
Warm-Up Lap: Q&A with Taylor Wiebke
Catch up with Gophers sophomore high jumper Taylor Wiebke after she earned Big Ten Field Athlete of the Week honors.
Gophers Earn Two Third-Place Finishes
Minnesota wrapped up competition at the Raleigh Relays with a pair of third-place finishes in the 800m and 4x800m relay on Saturday.