No. 7 Golden Gopher Women's Track Looks to Defend Big Ten Team Title on Home Track

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Golden Gopher Track Action This Week

Big Ten Women’s Indoor Track & Field Championships

Saturday-Sunday, March 1-2
University Fieldhouse
Host - Minnesota Minneapolis, Minn.
Saturday - 9 a.m.
Sunday - 12 noon

For Tickets:
612-624-8080 or 1-800-UGOPHER
gophersports.com

Minnesota Hosts Big Ten Women’s Indoor Meet
The Minnesota women’s track & field team plays host to the 2008 Big Ten Women’s Indoor Track & Field Championships on Saturday-Sunday, March 1-2, at the University Fieldhouse. Action gets underway on Saturday at 9 a.m. with the running of the 60-meter hurdles kicking off the pentathlon competition. A full slate of championship events begins on Sunday at 12 noon.

Tickets Still Available, Advance Purchase Suggested
Tickets, both all-session and single session, for the upcoming Big Ten Indoor Championships, hosted by Minnesota on March 1-2, are still available but advance purchase is suggested. Tickets may be purchased by calling the Gopher Ticket Office at 612-624-8080 (1-800-UGOPHER outside the metro) or on gophersports.com.

BTN Televises BIg Ten Indoor Track Championships
The Big Ten Network will be televising the Big Ten Women’s Indoor Track Championships on a tape-delayed basis airing on Monday, March 10 at 7 p.m. CT. The Big Ten Network talent working the Championships are Mel Proctor, Suzy Favor Hamilton, Kevin Sullivan, Ali Lucia and Marney Gellner.

Minnesota Ranked Seventh in the Nation
Minnesota is ranked No. 7 in the latest U.S. Track and Field/Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) poll. The Golden Gophers are among three Big Ten teams ranked in the top 10 with Michigan at No. 5 and Penn State at No. 8. LSU owns the No. 1 spot, followed by Arizona State, Stanford and Tennessee.

Gophers Host Meet Seeking Title Defense

The Golden Gophers would like nothing better than to defend their team crown on their home track this weekend. Minnesota scored 121.5 points to outdistance Michigan (108.5) and Illinois (107) for the 2007 Big Ten Indoor Championships title. The Gophers return one Big Ten champion (Liz Roehrig - pentathlon) and a total of 76.5 points from individual events.

Minnesota Track/Cross Country at its Pinnacle
Minnesota has enjoyed its finest seasons in track and cross country over the last three years. The Gophers have won a piece of the BIg Ten triple crown (cross country, indoor track, outdoor track) in each season and are looking to add the second jewel to their collection after winning the Conference cross country tittle last fall. Minnesota won its first Big Ten outdoor track title in 2006 and then its first indoor team crown in 2007.

Top Notch Middle Distance Competition on Tap
Few conference championships around the nation have the amount of talent that the Big Ten has in the middle distance events. The battle between strong contingent from Michigan, Michigan State and Minnesota will be key in the team title chase. Adding the 600 meters and distance medley relay to the docket of events makes the impact these middle distance runners have even greater.

Liz Roehrig Chases Historic Fourth Big Ten Title
Senior Liz Roehrig has the chance to accomplish something no other Minnesota student-athlete in any other sport has done - win four consecutive Big Ten Conference titles in an individual sport/event. Roehrig tallied a school-record 4,177 points to collect her fourth pent title a year ago. A two-time multi-event All-American, Roehrig missed the 2007 outdoor season with a serious ankle injury. She competed in one heptathlon prior to the injury and bettered her own school record with 5,621 points, surpassing an Olympic Qualifying B standard.

Keeping Them Guessin’ But Dorny Will Run and Run a Lot
All-American Heather Dorniden is obviously an important piece in the Golden Gophers’ drive to defending their Big Ten indoor title. Dorniden is a versatile middle distance runner who excels a wide range of distances. Dorniden is entered in a multiple of events from the 600 meters to the mile and in both the 4x400-meter and distance medley relays. A tribute to this Gopher junior is how she has foregone individual success for the betterment of the team. A five-time All-American, Dorniden has won as many national titles (1 - 2006 indoor 800m) as she has Big Ten titles (1 - 2006 indoor 800m). Easily the difficulty of running multiple events in as tight a time schedule as the Big Ten Championships is the reason for this talented Gopher just wining a single title. A year ago, Dorniden helped account for 23 points, placing second in the 600 meters, sixth in the mile and running on the Gophers’ second-place distance medley relay and fifth-place 4x400-meter relay.

Jamie Cheever in Top Form
Junior Jamie Cheever, coming an All-America cross country campaign last fall, is enjoying one of the finest indoor season for a Gopher on the track. Cheever has broken records in three performances this season. At the Iowa State Classic, her final tune-up for Big Tens, she bettered her own school record in the 3,000 meters, clocking a time of 9:20.23 and lowering the mark by over four seconds. Cheever first set the record (9:24.82) at the Jack Johnson Invite in late January. Cheever also broke the school record in the mile (4:39.54) at the Meyo Invitational on Feb. 10.

Wish We Could Run Them All
The Minnesota coaches will have an interesting decision to make regarding how they split up their talented middle distance crew for the Big Ten Championships. In the 800-meter run alone, Gophers own six of the top 13 runners in the event. And, that doesn’t even count Cheever, who is entered in the event but has yet to run an 800 meters this spring. Heather Dorniden owns the fastest Gopher time (2:05.05), second in the Big Ten behind Michigan’s Geena Gail (2:03.37). Julie Schwengler is ranked third (2:06.64).

Minnesota Needs to Continue Getting Big Points From Its Pole Vaulters

The pole vault is a key event for the Gophers and if Minnesota hopes to contend for the team titles, points in this event are huge. Led by 2007 Junior Pan American Games gold medalist Alicia Rue, the Gophers have a foursome of vaulters any of which who could rise to the occasion and grab the Big Ten title. Rue enters the Championships tied with Purdue’s Mallory Peck for the top seed having cleared 13-7 3/4. In the last three Big Ten Championships, here is the number of points the Gopher pole vaulters contributed: 2007 outdoor - 17 (second, third and sixth), 2007 indoor - 14 (third, fourth, sixth), 2006 outdoor - 16.5 (first, fifth, t-sixth).

Pole Vault Record Broken For Third Time

The Golden Gopher pole vaulters continue to impress, pushing each other to new and record heights. The school record changed hands for the third time this season. Alicia Rue re-captured the record she owns for a few weeks earlier this season. Rue cleared a height of 13-7 3/4 at the Iowa State Classic as she nears an NCAA automatic qualifying mark. Two weeks prior, it was senior Andrea Smith who re-captured the school record with a vault of 13-6 1/4. Smith had owned the record since her sophomore year before Alicia Rue broke the record 13-5 1/4 earlier this season. Junior Laura Massey, the 2006 Big Ten outdoor champ, has also cleared 13-0 1/4 this season as all three of the top three Minnesota vaulters have posted NCAA provisional marks.

Some Other Gophers to Watch
Team depth is an important element of this Gopher team’s success. Three-time outdoor Big Ten throwing champion Liz Podominick will be counted upon to score big in the shot put. The high jump could be a big event for the Gophers as well with Caitlin Roemhildt, Liz Roehrig and Natalie Devine all seeded among the top seven. Christin Kingsley could play a big role in the horizontal jumps, while Ladia Albertson-Junkans will bolster the Gopher cause in either the 3,000 or 5,000 meters. Then there is always the surprises. There are plenty of Gophers with the talent to jump into a scoring position. Minnesota hopes a home-track advantage helps as well.