Podominick leaves Gophers to pursue Olympic dream

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota women's basketball program lost its fourth player in two weeks on Tuesday, when Liz Podominick announced she would leave the team to pursue a spot on the U.S. Olympic track and field team.

Podominick, a sophomore on the university's track and field squad, hopes to compete in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

"I've had some experiences that I will never forget playing basketball for the Gophers," Podominick said in a statement. "But I have to consider my future and if I truly want to be an Olympian, I have to begin the proper training toward that goal."

On Monday, the Gophers' leading scorer and rebounder, Jamie Broback, left the team for personal reasons. Last week, the Gophers announced that sophomores Brittney Davis and Lauren Lacey -- both key reserves -- were released from their scholarships and will transfer to other schools.

A phone message left for women's coach Pam Borton was not immediately returned Tuesday.

Podominick had one year of basketball eligibility remaining. She played in 90 games with 25 starts, most of them at center. In 2005-06, Podominick was third on the team in scoring, averaging 8.3 points per game, and second in rebounding, with 5.3 per game.

In track and field, Podominick was the first freshman in Big Ten Conference history to win both the outdoor shot put and discus titles in her rookie season. She was named Big Ten freshmen of the year and went to the NCAA Championships in both events -- placing 10th in the shot put and 17th in the discus.

The recent departures mean Minnesota will bring back just four players who saw time this season -- guard Kelly Roysland, forward Natasha Williams, guard Emily Fox and forward Leslie Knight, who appeared in only four games.