Gopher Throwers Start Outdoor Strong
April 14, 2018

By Kayla Finnerty, Athletic Communications Student Intern

MINNEAPOLIS -- The outdoor track & field season is off to a solid start for the University of Minnesota women’s team, especially in the throws. Nicolle Murphy, Agnes Esser, and Temi Ogunrinde have all won three individual titles in three appearances in their primary events to open the season.

The success of the indoor season and winning the Big Ten Conference Indoor Championship propelled the team into the outdoor season, but redshirt junior Temi Ogunrinde believes it's time to focus on moving forward.

"We're coming off a huge high with indoors and the success we had both at Big Tens and then the individuals that went on to nationals, so it was really fun and a really cool experience, but we realized that's done, it's over with and it's outdoors now."

Ogunrinde holds the Minnesota school record in the hammer throw and has improved her own record multiple times, most recently with a winning throw of 64.63m (212-00) at the Ole Miss Classic. Despite breaking records, she placed 18th in the NCAA Championships, a finish that left her disappointed and ready to come back for a higher finish in 2018.

"Last year didn’t go as well as I wanted it to, so I want to go back and redeem myself to do better and just compete. At this point, we’ve put in all the work and I don’t think it’s supposed to be stressful or worrisome," Ogunrinde said. "It’s supposed to be fun."

Murphy red-shirted during the 2017 season to recover from hip surgeries. She is back for her last season with the Golden Gophers and currently holds the second best javelin throw in school history. After being selected as the Big Ten Conference Field Athlete of the Week on April 4, Murphy shows no signs of slowing down.

"I have a completely different mindset this year," Murphy said. "I don’t think I’m thinking about a lot other than knowing that my most competitive time is conference, regionals, and nationals. I don’t really have a specific mark or distance in mind. I’m just staying focused, staying positive, and taking care of my body."

Esser had a great indoor season and was named a Second Team All-American in the weight throw, placing 11th in the NCAA Indoor Championships with a throw of 20.89m (68-06.50). Esser grabbed the Minnesota school record in discus with a throw of 57.91m (190-00) at the 2016 NCAA West Prelim. She is competing in the discus and the hammer throws this outdoor season and hopes to make it to nationals in both of those events as well.

"I think I have a shot at winning discus if I can pull myself together and that’s my prime goal," Esser said. "I would like to make it to nationals in both events because I didn’t make it to nationals in any of my events last year, indoors or outdoors, and so that kind-of fed the fire to get to nationals in all three events this year." 

The hammer throw has a few different Gophers competing for the top spot, including Esser and Ogunrinde. After battling it out in the first couple meets of the season, their focuses are on each other more than themselves.

"We’ll see," Ogunrinde said. "If I don’t win, I want Agnes to win." 

"If one of us gets the gold, I’m happy," Esser agreed.

Esser and Murphy are both seniors competing in their final season for the Gophers. Esser has lofty goals to finish up her career in both the hammer and discus while Murphy’s focus remains on javelin. Although their sights remain on the Big Ten and NCAA Championships for now, they also hope to continue competing after the conclusion of their collegiate careers.

"I don’t know what’s next, but I have the potential to go further and I’m hoping I can finish strong with the university and get an opportunity after that," Murphy said. "I want to get to nationals and USA Championships in the summer and then anything after that that I could possibly make the U.S. team for."

Esser will be throwing in her home country of Canada after her time with the Gophers comes to a close.

"Of course, it’s going to be a little sad because it’s my last year and I’m going to leave all of my friends because I’m going to go back to Canada," Esser said. "It’s also exciting because I’m going to continue throwing in Canada, for Canada, so I’m excited to see where that’s going to take me."

All three Gophers are off to a strong start on the way to achieving their goals, and the three of them lead a stacked throws corps for Minnesota this season.

The Maroon & Gold is back in action next week, splitting the squad at four meets Thursday, April 19 through Saturday, April 21 as the team competes at the Brian Clay Invitational, Mt. SAC Relays, Beach Invitational, and the Holst Invitational.

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