The Minnesota Gophers track and field teams will send a total of 40 entries and 35 different athletes to the 2022 NCAA Track and Field West Regional held at the University of Arkansas from Wednesday to Saturday this week. All of the Gophers in the field will try and earn a top-12 spot and advance to the NCAA Championships held in Eugene Oregon from June 8th to 11th.
Minnesota will have several of the top challengers on both the men’s and women’s side of things. They bring in three reigning Big Ten Champions in Kostas Zaltos in the hammer throw, Alec Basten in the 3,000 meter steeplechase and Abigail Schaaffe in the 400 meter hurdles.
The Men get underway on Wednesday with the four Gopher qualifiers in the hammer throw starting their action Wednesday morning. Besides Big Ten Champion Zaltos, Minnesota brought fifth place finisher Jake Kubiatowicz, Kaleb Siekmaier and Carter Hughes. Zaltos had the second best throw late in the competition and was guaranteed a trip to the NCAA Championships. The rest of the Gophers did not make the final 12 with Kubiatowicz the next highest in 17th place.
Later Wednesday night Minnesota will have a pair of athletes in the prelims off the men’s 100 meters in Kion Benjamin and Finn Schirmer, Kyle Atkinson in the shot put, Owen and Eli Hoeft in the 1,500 prelims, Mike Herauf in the pole vault, Colby Jennings Jr in the prelims of the men’s 400 meters, and Benjamin will close out the night for the Gophers in the prelims of the men’s 200 meters.
Thursday is the first day of the competition for the women and Tess Keyzers will kick it off for the Gophers in the hammer throw. Later in the evening session Minnesota will be represented by Lexy Berger in the pole vault, Odell Frye, Amira Young and Akilah Lewis in the 100 meters prelims, Devia Brown, Keyzers and McKenzie Duwenhoegger in the shot put, Janielle Josephs and Jayla Campbell in the 400 meter prelims, Anastasia Korzenowski in the 800 meter prelims, Schaaffe in the 400 meter hurdles prelims, Young again in the 200 meter prelims, and then Megan Hasz to close out the night in the women’s 10,000 meters.
The men are back on the track Friday with Siekmaier and Kubiatowicz back for the discus throw, while Floyd Whitaker and Alstain Walker compete in the triple jump and Basten and Mathew Wilkinson compete for the first time in the 3,000 meter steeplechase. Additionally the men’s 4x100 relay will take the track for the first time as well. The Gophers who advance from Wednesday’s prelims into the top 24 in their running events will compete in the quarterfinals Friday night with a top 12 finish sending them to Eugene.
Saturday it will be the women’s turn on their final day. Shelby Frank makes her debut in the discus throw, as does Nylaam Jok in the high jump, and Tiera Robinson-Jones in the triple jump, and Bethany Hasz in the 5,000 meters. The women’s 4x100 and 4x400 replay teams will also compete for the first time at the event to try and earn a top-12 spot. Additionally just like the men, the women who advance to the top-24 in each event from Thursday will return for their quarterfinals to earn a top 12 finish and a berth to Eugene.