Gophers sports notebook

Jared Ellerson honored, Keith Ballard earns a Bronze Medal, and more discussed in the Gopher sports notebok

CFN Selects Jared Ellerson As Player To Watch For 2004

College Football News profiles Gopher receiver Jared Ellerson as Minnesota's unsung player who you should know about for 2004. CFN is selecting one player to watch from each of the 117 Division I football teams this season.

Last season Ellerson was an honorable-mention All-Big Ten choice, hauling in 44 passes for 909 yards. He set the sophomore receiving record for yards at Minnesota despite missing the Sun Bowl with an injury. He also had four 100-yard receiving games, including a career-best 189 yards at Northwestern.

Team USA, Keith Ballard Earn Bronze Medal at World Championships

The United States Men's National Team, with current University of Minnesota men's hockey player Keith Ballard (Baudette, Minn.) on its roster, earned the bronze medal at the 2004 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championships in the Czech Republic. Team USA defeated Slovakia, 1-0 in a shootout, for its first podium performance in the event since 1996.

Ballard helped the United States to a 5-3-1 overall record at the World Championships. He had one goal and was plus-1 in eight games at the tournament. Ballard was the only current college player on the United States roster. Former Golden Gopher Erik Westrum (Apple Valley, Minn.) was also on the Team USA roster. Westrum tallied three goals and two assists, and led the team with 27 shots in nine games.

Westrum scored the clinching goal in the shootout to lead Team USA to the 1-0 win over Slovakia. In the quarterfinals against the previously unbeaten Czech Republic, Westrum scored the game-tying goal to push the contest to overtime and a shootout, where Team USA eventually won, 3-2.

Golden Gopher Softball to Face Northwestern in Big Ten Tournament

The University of Minnesota softball team will face Northwestern on Friday in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament in Ann Arbor, Mich. The Golden Gophers earned the fifth seed in the tournament. The game will begin at 1:30 p.m. Central.

For the first time, the Big Ten Tournament will be an eight-team, single-elimination format. Michigan is the number one seed after finishing first in the league with a 17-3 record. Thanks to its sweep in Iowa City this past weekend, Illinois passed Iowa and gained the number two seed. The Hawkeyes are seeded third, followed by Northwestern.

Rounding out the tournament field is No. 6 Ohio State, No. 7 Penn State and No. 8 Michigan State. Minnesota finished 10-10 in conference play this season, thanks in part to eight splits in 10 league series.

Gophers Men's Golf Fails in Quest for Threepeat

Ohio State ended Minnesota's two-year run as Big Ten men's golf champions Sunday. The Buckeyes shot a 54-hole conference record to beat Illinois by five strokes in Ann Arbor, Mich.

The Gophers shot rounds of 287-279-282=848 (-4), finishing six shots behind Ohio State and one shot behind Illinois for second place. The Buckeyes' Kevin Hall won medallist honors with a 14-under-par 199 score, besting Minnesota's Justin Smith by 11 shots. Smith carded rounds of 68-70-72=210 (-3).

Two Gophers finished a shot behind Smith to tie for fifth. Freshman Bronson La'Cassie carded a 70 on Sunday to finish at 2-under along with senior David Morgan. Morgan had the best final round for the Gophers with a 68 and registered his best collegiate finish. Junior Ben Greve is tied for 17th after rounds of 70-74-72=216 (+3). Sophomore Ryan Paulson, playing his second tournament after a shoulder injury suffered in February, finished 54th at 233 (+20).

The Big Ten also awarded its postseason awards Sunday and Smith and La'Cassie earned First Team All-Big Ten recognition while Greve and Morgan were named to the second team. La'Cassie was also named Big Ten Freshman of the Year. In addtion, Smith, La'Cassie and Morgan were named to the Big Ten All-Tournament Team.

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