As the winter championship season begins, some Minnesota Golden Gophers seasons are on the downswing. But the spring sports continue to gear up into full swing action. Here is our weekly recap of the Gophers non-revenue sports teams.
Gopher Track and Field:
The Gophers competed in the Big Ten Indoor track and Field Championships in Ann Arbor last weekend. While the Gophers could not repeat their 2018 performance where the women won as a team and they had multiple individual championships, it was still a successful weekend.
The women finished in seventh place while the men came in ninth place in the championships. Neither team won any individual titles either. The women had two second place finishers—Tess Keyzers in the weight throw and Val Larson in the 600 meters. They also had one third place finish by Amira Young in the 60 meter dash. The men recorded two third place finishers in Jonathan Tharaldsen in the shot put and Obsa Ali in the 5,000 meters.
The indoor season is now complete for most of the Gophers, but Minnesota will have several qualifiers for the NCAA Indoor Championships that will take place in Birmingham, Alabama on March 8-9. The outdoor season begins a week later when the Gophers full teams will compete in the University of Miami Hurricane Invitational.
Gopher Women’s Swimming and Diving:
The Gopher women swim and dive team competed at their Big Ten Championships last weekend in Bloomington, Indiana. The Gophers finished in fourth place in the conference and recorded two individual championships. Chantal Nack won the 500 meter freestyle and Sarah Bacon won the 3 meter diving event for the Gophers. Both athletes also added a second place finish to their titles as Nack took second in the 200 backstroke in setting a new school record and Bacon took second in the 1 meter diving event. Additionally Mackenzie Paddington took second to Nack in the 500 free.
At the end of the event Nack and Bacon were named 1st Team All-Big Ten while Paddington, Zoe Avestrutz and Tevyn Waddell were both named 2nd Team All-Big Ten.
The men’s Big Ten Championships will take place this weekend in Iowa City. Several members from both teams will then compete at the NCAA Championships in Austin, Texas later in March.
The Gophers were down in Dallas for a three game series with Dallas Baptist University. Things did not go quite as well as the Gophers would have hoped as Minnesota won only one game of the three game series. The Gophers dropped Friday’s game 9-0 before winning 9-7 on Saturday. Minnesota would lose on Sunday despite a ninth inning rally 7-5.
Friday night it was fielding woes that killed the Gophers. Minnesota committed five errors and could only muster six hits in the loss.
On Saturday the Gophers got last year’s ace Patrick Frederickson his first win on the season. He threw 105 pitches in just 5.2 innings but allowed only one earned run. The Gophers busted the game open with a five run seventh inning when the Gophers strung six hit together. The Gopher bullpen had a bit of trouble after Frederickson left the game but All-American closer Max Meyer came in the bottom of the 9th and shut down the Patriots striking out two batters to end the game for his second save of the season.
The Gophers dropped the Sunday game due to some unfortunate fielding and controversial umpiring. Sam Thoresen got the start for the Gophers and picked up the loss after allowing four runs, though none were earned. The Gophers put together a ninth inning rally but could not seem to get a call from the home plate umpire and could not fully complete the comeback.
Minnesota is now 2-5 on the season and will head east to Raleigh North Carolina for a three game series at NC State this weekend.
The Gophers had another mixed weekend in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The Gophers easily took care of three unranked opponents, but dropped a pair of games to #6 Alabama after some...stop me if you have heard this before questionable home plate umpiring.
Friday the Gophers took care of Louisiana-Monroe 5-0. Freshman Emma Burns hit the first two home runs of her career with a pair of solo shots. They were just two of seven Minnesota extra-base hits. Senior Sydney Smith went all seven innings in the circle allowing just three hits and striking out five to move to 1-1 on the season.
The Gophers first game with Alabama on Friday night was a painful reminder of the duels the Gophers and Tide had in 2016 when Minnesota played in the NCAA regional at Alabama. Amber Fiser was amazing in the circle for Minnesota. She went 6.2 innings with five strikeouts while only allowing four hits and one run. Unfortunately the one run would be enough as the Tide walked off the Gophers 1-0 in the bottom of the seventh inning. Alabama got a runner on after a lead off single and sacrificed her to second. Fiser struck out the next batter but then gave up the game winning single.
Saturday afternoon the Gophers and Tide matched up again. This time the Gophers got on the board first. Hope Brandner ripped a two-run home run off of a light pole in center to put Minnesota up 2-0. Fiser again was on fire through four innings giving up just two singles. Then...things went poorly. With rain pouring down in an already rain-delayed game the Tide had runners on second and third with one out. It appeared Fiser got out two on a great strikeout....but somehow the home plate umpire somehow called this pitch ball four to load the bases.
Even the commentators got it right. pic.twitter.com/RoXXHW3Xku— Katie Rietkovich (@KRietkovich) February 24, 2019
With Fiser’s composure shot the Tide would string together two singles and two home runs to turn a 2-0 Gopher lead into a 7-2 Alabama lead. Not coincidentally the game was then called for rain after the fifth inning giving the Tide the win.
The Gophers got back on track on Sunday getting a 13-1 win over Louisiana-Monroe and then a 7-0 win over Missouri State. Minnesota put up a nine run first inning against ULM including Burns’ third home run of the weekend and a Natalie DenHartog grand slam. Smith pitched the first three innings to get the win and move to 2-1 while Hannah Bailey threw the last two innings.
The Gophers broke open the game against Missouri State with a five run third inning. Brandner hit a 2 RBI double and DenHartog added an RBI triple. Fiser bounced back to get her fourth win on the season. Fiser went five innings, allowing just one hit and typing her season high with 10 strikeouts. retiring the Bears in order in four out of the five innings. She tied her season-high with 10 strikeouts and only allowed one hit. Fiser improves to 4-4 on the season with a 1.79 ERA and 59 strikeouts. Rachel Lowary pitched the last two innings and set a new career-high with five strikeouts.
The schedule gets no easier for Minnesota as they once again will play in a tournament at the home of a ranked opponent. The Gophers head to Tucson, Arizona for the Wildcat Invitational this weekend. Minnesota will play unranked Drake twice, and Kent State once before closing out the tournament with a game each against host and #12 Arizona and #19 James Madison.
Gopher Women’s Gymnastics
The Gophers took second place in the Big Five Meet comprised of the top five teams in the Big Ten in Toledo last Saturday. Minnesota ends the Big Ten regular season with an 8-1 record and a 12-3 overall record. The Gophers moved up to being #11 in the nation after the meet.
Lexi Ramler took third in the overall competition and scored 9.9 in both the beam and vault. Ivy Lu had the highest individual event score for the Gophers with a 9.925 on the bars and was named the Big Ten’s event performer of the week for her performance.
The Gophers will hold their final home meet of the season this Saturday when they host Pittsburgh at the Pav at 4PM.
Gopher Men’s Gymnastics:
The Gophers got good individual performances from several athletes including Freshman Mike Moran. He would win his first even event title on floor with a score of 14.400 and would be named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week for his performance. He also came in third on vault with a new best 14.550. Sophomores Colton Dee and Shane Wiskus came in first on rings and parallel bars, respectively, with scores of 13.600 and 14.250. Wiskus also added a third place finish on high bar with a 13.900. Rookies David Pochinka and Danny Yoon also took bronze on pommel horse (12.900) and rings (13.400).
Minnesota Women’s Tennis:
The Gophers dropped a pair of matches in Madison this weekend losing 4-3 to Utah on Friday and 5-2 to Wisconsin on Sunday. The Gophers got singles wins against Utah from the #3 spot in Bita Mancera, the #4 spot in Cammy Frei and the #6 spot in River Hart but could not win one more match to tilt the result the other way.
Against the Badgers Minnesota took an early 1-0 lead by winning the doubles point. Unfortunately things went downhill from there with only #5 singles Caitlyn Merzbacher able to win a singles match.
Meanwhile the 9-1 Gopher Men’s tennis team returns home for their final pair of non-conference matches this weekend. The Gophers will put their seven match winning streak on the line when they host Washington at 5PM on Friday and Drake at 3PM Sunday.
Minnesota Women’s Golf:
The Gophers finished in a tie for 11th place at the Gold Rush Invitational at Old Ranch Country Club in Seal Beach, California. Minnesota finished 41 over par for the tournament but scored the second best team score in the final round on Tuesday with a +2 finishing just one shot worse than eventual second place finisher Georgia.
The Gophers are now off until Mid-March.