Jan. 2, 2014
MINNEAPOLIS – The University of Minnesota women's track and field season gets underway with the season-opening Northwest Open on Saturday, Jan. 18. Director of women’s cross country and track and field Matt Bingle, who coaches the Gophers’ sprinters, jumpers and multi-event athletes, takes a look at the Golden Gophers’ line-up heading into the 2014 campaign.
"I’m very excited about the season," Bingle said. "We’re ready to compete. It’s that time of year where the student-athletes have been doing track for 16 weeks now. We’re at that point in training where we need to compete.
"I’m always cautious about how good we can be. I’m more work-centered, but I’m very optimistic. The team goal is to be in the top three at the Big Ten meet indoors and outdoors."
Bingle takes a closer look at the sprinters, jumpers and multi-event athletes in preparation for the 2014 campaign.
Bingle anticipates that the Gophers will primarily rely on returning seniors Alena Brooks (Diego Martin, Trinidad) and Megan Geyen (Watertown, Minn.) to anchor the sprinters and fill the void left by the graduation of Todea-Kay Willis and Kylie Peterson this season. He also expects rookie Titania Markland (Annotto Bay, Jamaica) to contribute immediately.
Geyen ran the Gophers’ all-time second fastest 400m time last year (53.72) in prelims at the Big Ten championships. Likewise, Brooks and senior Te’Shon Adderley (Nassau, Bahamas) each ran all-time top-10 800m times last season. Brooks ranks second overall in 2:05.82 while Adderley is third all-time in 2:06.38. Meanwhile, Markland joins the Gophers as a national standout from Annotto Bay, Jamaica.
"Our sprinters have worked hard, pushed each other and been committed to doing the right things this fall," Bingle said. "It’s been an exciting fall, and it’s been great to coach them. I’ve enjoyed it. They took the testing and the intersquad seriously and had a lot of good things happen."
Along with Brooks, Geyen and Markland, Bingle mentioned that redshirt freshman Erin Hawkins (Des Moines, Iowa) and junior Jessica Waldvogel (Wausau, Wis.) have stood out during a great fall season. Hawkins will make her first appearance as a Gopher this season, while Waldvogel looks to build upon her seventh-place finish in the 400m (56:00) at last year’s Big Ten outdoor meet.
"There are a lot of student-athletes who have had a great fall," Bingle said. "They’ve done a good job and competed well each day. It’s hard to believe the season is here."
"I’m very encouraged by the whole group of multis," Bingle said. "Jess Herauf is the lead in this group. She has been able to stay healthy this fall after not competing at all for us last year. She has had a great fall. I’m expecting big things from her."
Herauf missed the 2013 season due to injury but scored the eighth-best pentathlon point total in school history (3,516) at the 2012 Big Ten Championships to place tenth as a freshman. She has the potential to lead the Gophers in the javelin as well as taking the lead on the multi-events.
Along with Herauf, the Gophers’ multi-event specialists include sophomores Alex Beckman (Apple Valley, Minn.), Amanda Beckman (Apple Valley, Minn.) and Kelly Flynn (Greenfield, Wis.) and redshirt freshman Audra Winter (Manitowoc, Wis.).
The Beckmans are the only Gophers to have competed in the heptathlon and pentathlon last season. Both earned marks in Minnesota’s all-time top-10 in the heptathlon last season with Alex scoring 4,916 to rank seventh all-time (eighth at the Big Ten championships) and Amanda scoring 4,825 to rank 10th all-time (10th at the Big Ten championships).
"Alex and Amanda Beckman are very fun to be around," Bingle said. "I really enjoy coaching them. Alex has improved a lot, both mentally and physically, and is taking the next step. I think Amanda is right there, too."
Bingle expects senior Katie Loberg (Princeton, Minn.) to lead the Gophers in high jump. Loberg comes off a third place finish at the 2013 Big Ten Outdoor Championship with the sixth-best jump in school history at 5-8 1/2 (1.74m).
In addition, Alex Beckman tied for 11th in high jump at the 2013 Big Ten Indoor Championships, clearing 5-6 to tie the best jump on the team during the indoor season. Audra Winter also will contribute; the redshirt freshman won the high jump at this winter’s intersquad meet.
Long Jump/Triple Jump
The Gophers must replace Todea-Kay Willis, the Gophers’ all-time record-holder in the long jump both indoors and outdoors. Bingle will rely on junior Nicole Murphey to lead the long and triple jump squad. Murphey is coming off an injury but finished 12th in long jump at the 2013 indoor Big Ten meet with a season-best leap of 18-9 1/4 (5.72m) and jumped a season-best 18-11 3/4 (5.78m) outdoors last season.
All four pole vaulters from Minnesota’s 2013 squad return this season in Cami Gilson (Arrowhead, Wis.), Katie Murgic (Rosemount, Minn.), Sara Tseng (Richfield, Minn.) and Stephanie Oleson (Glen Allen, Va.). The Gophers also add freshman Alex Flucke (Ashwaubenon, Wis.), who was a four-time Wisconsin Division I state meet pole vaulter, to the line-up.
"Katie Murgic and Cami Gilson had a great fall," Bingle said. "Look for them to be the leaders of the pole vault. I’m excited about the whole group with Alex Flucke in there as well. They could be a really strong group for us."
Gilson tied the sixth-best mark in program history, clearing 12-10 (3.91m) indoors at the Parents Day Open last season. Meanwhile, Murgic led the Gophers outdoors with a season-best 12-6 3/4 (3.83m).
Fans have the opportunity to see the Gophers in action at three home meets this season, beginning with the Northwest Open on Saturday, Jan. 18. Field events begin at 11 a.m. with running events kicking off at 12:30 p.m.
"I feel like we have the opportunity to achieve our goals if we can stay healthy and our seniors stay focused and our leadership is good," Bingle said. "It’s going to require them taking care of business – doing their jobs, going to work every day, communicating well and taking care of their bodies."
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