Former Davies runner Lucas part of Gophers track team cuts
Lucas was set to begin his redshirt junior year at Minnesota
MINNEAPOLIS - Hunter Lucas wanted to run in the Big Ten and at Minnesota. That opportunity is now ending.
Lucas, the former Fargo Davies state champion runner in the 1600 and 3200 meters is now a member of the University of Minnesota men's track and field team. That team along with men's tennis and men's gymnastics will be eliminated at the end of this school year, thanks to a $75 million deficit at the school.
"The crappy thing is they were probably talking about this for a few weeks or a month or so before actually telling us." Lucas said Thursday. "We thought one or two sports that would be going, we didn't think it would be us. They have to find money somewhere else, and football or volleyball isn't in season, they have to cut some."
Minnesota, along with the rest of the Big Ten has postponed all fall sports to the spring. Football is the biggest revenue generator at the school, and with no games or television rights, the school estimated an $75 million shortfall.
Lucas said the school will honor his scholarship. He intends on graduating this spring, but his running career isn't over. "I still have dreams and goals that I want to accomplish at this level as a runner. With graduating the options definitely open up doors, I love the university, but I still have 2.5 years of eligibility and considering taking up somewhere else." Lucas said.
Lucas has run the last three years at Minnesota, earning his first letters at the school in cross country and track and field in 2019. He came to the U after an outstanding high school at Fargo Davies. He was the first Eagle to win the state cross country championship, and added three state track titles including back to back 1600 meter titles.
"I'm frustrated, we're all trying to handle it in our own ways. I'm not going to trash the program, they've done a lot for me. They also gave me an opportunity to compete at this level."
There is some uncertainty if Lucas has run his last race at Minnesota. The Big Ten's postponement of fall sports to the spring will make for some difficult decisions for runners to choose between cross country, indoor or outdoor track. And there's no clear decision what happens with spring sports yet. That realization hit Lucas on Thursday.
"If we do have a season, there will be some emotions that it will be the last time I wear the Minnesota singlet. We wanted to be a part of this program, they made their decision, now we have to do our own thing."