This year’s group of throwers for the University of Minnesota women’s track & field team is hungry to show how much they have improved this past off-season. Coming off a little setback from last year’s Big Ten championships, the group is ready to show their competiveness against opponents.
Long time throwing coaching Lynne Anderson is excited to see what this group has to offer for the 2012 season.
“We have 11 throwers this season and this group’s goal in the offseason was to improve on their technique, make the travel team which in the Big Ten is very hard to do especially with the shot and weight throw,” Anderson said. “All of them have made the same commitment at the beginning of last fall and that was to come to practice every day with a positive attitude and at every practice their job is to come ready to work.”
Led by senior DeAnne Hahn in the weight throw, the Gophers have a young group that will look to help score big points in the conference. Hahn, who ranks fourth all-time in Minnesota history for the weight throw (62-1 feet); will be looking to keep that pace going in quest for a trip to the NCAA championships.
The Big Ten is known for having some very talented throwers in the weight throw completion. At last year’s NCAA finals, four throwers were from the Big Ten Conference.
Other key names to look out for are junior Jeri Johnson-Chambers and redshirt freshman Christina DeLakis. Coach Anderson said both have significant improvement in the offseason and the intrasquad clearly proved that. Johnson-Chambers threw the weight throw 54-10 ½ feet, which was a personal best. DeLakis tossed the shot put 46 ½ feet.
“Tina (DeLakis) and Jeri (Johnson-Chambers) have worked hard all season with our strength and conditioning program and we hope their work will pay off for them,” Anderson said.
As a group Anderson says there are some very special things about this group that she is excited about.
“They are very competitive group every day, rather it is in the weight room or in the field,” Anderson said. “What is so special about them is they always have each other’s back and collectively they are a unit. We have lot of upperclassmen and that helps keep the group positive.”
Keep an eye out for this talented group of throwers that the Golden Gophers have lined up for this season.
When head coach Matt Bingle looks down his roster he sees a long list of names for the 2012 season. When you sit and add up the numbers you see a lot of freshman, sophomores and not many seniors. Those few seniors though are more than just a small pack of individuals, but a group with a lot of experience and great leadership.
Seniors Sharyn Dahl, Chimerem Okoroji, Kelly Stalpes and Becca Pilkerton look to be the leaders for the sprinters and jumpers. According to Bingle Dahl has high goals set on the 600 meters, Okoroji will look sharpe in the 60 meters, Stalpes will be a key factor in the hurdles and Pilkerton returns in the pole vault and is ranked third all-time in Gopher history with a mark of 13-7 ¼. Together this group of seniors has the experience and that will be a key for the underclassmen.
"We have a great group of upperclassmen who are great leaders," Bingle said. "They have won Big Ten titles and we will look for their leadership to guide this team."
"We are excited to see these kids compete," Bingle said. "They have had a good fall and are excited. We hope they can contribute early on and they are great teammates."
Working with a lot of new faces can sometimes be a challenge, especially with the numbers Minnesota is looking at. Bingle says he is just excited to get them out on the track and see what they can contriubtie to the team.
"This team has great work ethic," Bingle said. "They are fun to coach, are all good teammates and are bright students. We just need to get them the experience."
The experience will come and will start this weekend when the Gophers head to Lincoln, NE to take part in the first meet of the season, the Holiday Inn Invitational on Friday and Saturday. Minnesota will also host the Northwest Open on Saturday at the UM Fieldhouse.