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Minnesota men's outdoor track and field makes history

The University of Minnesota's men's outdoor track and field team now sits at the No. 1 spot in the nation for the first time.

MINNEAPOLIS — There's a group of Minnesota athletes gaining a lot of traction right now.

"We're a team that a lot of people were sleeping on," said sixth-year distance runner, Matt Wilkinson. 

The University of Minnesota's men's outdoor track and field team now sits at the No. 1 spot in the nation for the first time in history.

It may sound pretty wild at a time when the elements of winter are still lingering, especially for star sprinters like Kion Benjamin.

"We fight the elements, they fight us back a lot," said Benjamin, hailing all the way from the warm islands of Trinidad and Tobago. 

"But we make it work so, we have everything that we need here to be successful, we just have to come together as a family and buck up and then we get the job done," said Benjamin. 

The rise to the top is a first in program history made up of athletes from around the world, in multiple events, setting the bar high and the record straight. 

Case in point: Matt Wilkinson.

"I was able to run 8:29 in the steeplechase, which is right now the top time in the NCAA, which is pretty cool," said Wilkinson. 

While there's no "I" in team, each of the athletes are pulling their weight, and in some cases literally, creating a recipe for success. Greek hammer thrower Kostas Zaltos says it hasn't come easy, even as the second-best thrower in the nation and 12th in the world. 

"I think working every day and being consistent, I think we're in a great spot to do great things this year," said Zaltos. 

"One day, one week at a time," said track and field director Matt Bingle. 

Bingle says the team's focused approach has been instilled from within. 

"They're leading each other, you know, and holding each other accountable, and I think anytime you have a program that is more athlete led than coach-led, then it's a lot more powerful," said Bingle. 

"I'm trying to be a mentor to some of the new freshmen coming in now," said Benjamin. "I love the team to death and we have some more in store for the Big Ten coming up later on in the year.”

"I think we're going to show them this spring that we're still a force to be reckoned with," said Wilkinson. 

To catch the Men's Outdoor Track and Field team in action, they've got two more home meets scheduled for the last two Wednesdays in April.

The national rankings will be updated every Monday. 


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