The Minnesota Gophers men’s and women’s track teams competed in the NCAA West Prelims last weekend at Texas A&M. The Gophers had a total of 41 entries into the preliminary competition and from that Minnesota will advance 11 entries to the NCAA Championships that will be held at historic Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon June 9th through June 12th.
Athletes and relays needed to finish in the Top 24 of their events to advance to the NCA Championships. There the Top 24 from the eastern prelims will join the field for a chance to win a NCAA Championship.
The Gopher men will advance six athletes to the NCAA Championships with four of the six being throwers. On Wednesday it would be Kyle Atkinson finishing in 11th place in the shot put with a throw of 19.03m to earn his spot to Eugene. The Top sopt for the Gophers on Wednesday went to Kostas Zaltos who was the runner up in the hammer throw with a throw of 70.99 meters which is the second longest throw in Gopher history!
Minnesota earned another pair of throwing spots on Friday in the discus event. Phillipe Barnett and Kaleb Siekmeier both earned spots in Eugene with a third place throw of 58.48m for Barnette and a 11th place throw of 56.38 meters for Siekmeier.
On Saturday the Gophers earned two more spots. The first went to Big Ten Champion Alec Basten who continued the Gophers run of success in the 3,000 meter steeplechase with a time of 8:40.15 finishing in 8th place. Also earning a spot was Teddy Frid in the decathlon which was not competed at the prelims but Frid earned a spot in the NCAA Championships based upon past scores. He had the 24th best score in the nation this season, just enough to get him to Eugene with the final spot.
The Gopher women would add five entries of their own that will be heading to Eugene. It took until Friday for the first Minnesota women to earn her spot, but Tess Keyzers did so in the women’s hammer throw finishing in 11th place with a throw of 61.70 meters.
The final four spots for the Gopher women came down to the final day on Saturday. Abby Kohut-Jackson had the easiest time and kept the Gophers dominance in the 3,000-meter steeplechase alive. The Big Ten Champion finished in third place with a new Minnesota program record of 9.46.96.
Bethany Hasz will look for more hardware at an NCAA Championship as she will return to Eugene after qualifying with an 8th place finish in the 5,000 meters with a time of 16:00.44. Hasz was the runner up in the 5,000 meters at the NCAA Indoor Championships in April and took 10th place in the outdoor 5,000 meters event at the 2019 NCAA Championships.
Shelby Frank made it a pair of Gopher women throwers at the NCAA Championships as she earned her spot with a 12th place finish in the discus with a throw of 54.61m.
Finally in the last event of the meet, the Big Ten Champion 4x400 meter relay squad of Jayla Campbell, Val Larson, Janielle Josephs, and Abigail Schaaffe made things interesting but squeezed into the field with a 12th place finish in a time of 3:34:36.
Congrats to the Gophers and we will keep you updated as the NCAA Championships near!