Gophers preparing for NCAA Track Championships

The Minnesota men's and women's track & field team will be represented by a talented contingent of athletes at the NCAA Championships Wednesday through Saturday at California State University, Sacramento, including senior Shani Marks, who is attempting to become the school's first women's track and field athlete to win an NCAA outdoor title.

Shani Marks is the only member of the Minnesota women's track and field team competing in the NCAA Track and Field Championships Wednesday through Saturday at California State University, Sacramento, but she has an entire University rooting for her.

Marks is a two-time All-American in the triple jump and owns the top jump in the nation this season at 45-3. She is attempting to become the first member of the Minnesota women's outdoor track and field team to win an NCAA title.

Marks placed sixth in the triple jump at the 2003 indoor meet and 14th overall in the 2002 outdoor meet. The Big Ten champion in the event, Marks is one of two jumpers to surpass 45 feet this season. Nebraska's Ineta Radevica, who won the event at the Midwest Regional, is the other with a jump of 45-0 1/2.

The Minnesota men's team has 10 athletes qualified, and could be among the contenders for the team title. The Gophers are led by Mitch Potter, who has the best 400-meter time entering the meet. Potter is the favorite in the 400 and anchors the Gophers' 4x400-meter relay team. Other members of the relay team include Adam Steele, Andy Wohlin and Mikael Jakobsson. The foursome earned All-America honors with a fourth-place finish at the 2003 NCAA Indoor Championships.

TRACK AND FIELD HISTORY

The Golden Gopher men captured Minnesota's only track & field title in 1948. In 2002, the men tied for 48th with four points. Minnesota's top NCAA outdoor finish under Coach Phil Lundin was a ninth-place showing in 1997.

The Golden Gopher women have yet to crown an individual national champion in outdoor track & field. Minnesota's highest team finish was a tie for 18th place in 1999. Last year, the Gophers finished in a tie for 45th place with four points.

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