The Gophers are hoping for a top three finish in the Big Ten women's indoor track and field meet, a two-day event which opens Friday in Geneva, Ohio. The Gophers placed fourth a year ago; Penn State is the defending champion and No. 11-ranked Wisconsin the favorite.

The Gophers will be led by six athletes who have rank among the top five in the conference in their events.

Jess Herauf was second in the pentathlon a year ago and her score of 4,311 is the second best in the nation. Devin Stanford is third in the conference this indoor season in the weight throw, Heta Tuuri is fourth in the high jump, Katie Murgic and Cami Gilson are tied for fifth in the pole vault and Agnes Esser is fifth in the shot put. The 4x400 relay is third.

"The team goal is always to finish in the top three," Gophers coach Matt Bingle said. "We competed very well last season at the outdoor meet, so I expect the same type of attitude and performances this weekend."


• St. Thomas, the five-time defending conference champion, was a unanimous pick to win the MIAC softball title again in the preseason coaches' poll, which didn't allow coaches to vote for their own teams. Gustavus was chosen to finish second. The conference tournament will change from a two- to a three-day event this season, and it will be held at the highest seed.

• The Gophers took fourth place in the 200-yard medley relay with a time of 1 minutes, 25.71 seconds on Wednesday in the Big Ten men's swimming and diving meet in Iowa City. They were fifth in the 800 freestyle relay (6:25.03), the only other final on the first day.

• Winona State senior pitcher/outfielder Ashley Walker was named Division II national softball player of the week. Walker led the No. 16 Warriors to a 7-0 start. She was 3-0 with a 1.11 ERA. The former Shakopee star also hit .560 with six doubles, a triple and 11 RBI.