Big Ten Championships Preview – Purdue
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The Big Ten Championships are coming to Rankin Track and Field this weekend. The Boilermakers will host the 10 other league members in the three-day event to crown the conference’s best beginning on Friday.
The three-day meet begins Friday at 11 a.m. ET with the decathlon 100m dash. The first final will begin at 1:30 p.m. with the men’s pole vault. Friday’s action will conclude with the women’s 10k, which is set to commence at 9:45 p.m. The action returns Saturday at 11:30 a.m. with the decathlon 110m hurdles.
Saturday’s first final will be at 3:20 p.m. with the men’s long jump. Saturday’s events will conclude with the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase, which is scheduled to begin at 8:45. The final day of competition, Sunday, will begin at 10 a.m. with the men’s javelin. Action is set to wrap up with the men’s 4x400m relays, scheduled for 3:45 p.m.
A live results link will be posted on the track and field on PurdueSports.com and on the Game Day Central page, which will be made available Friday morning. The Game Day Central page will also feature a live, interactive blog for fans to interact with the team’s communications staff to receive updated results, pictures, trivia, pictures and more.
Live updates can also be found on Purdue track’s official Twitter feed, @PurdueTrackXC, and the Big Ten Championships feed, @BigTenChamps. Full results, a recap, pictures, champion quotes, and more will be posted to PurdueSports.com following each day’s completion.
Tickets for the event are $10 for adults and $5 for students, youth and seniors for single session admission. All session tickets can be purchased for $20 for adults and $10 for students, youth and seniors. Tickets will be available at Rankin Track and Field at the west entrance and are cash only. Parking is free of charge in the lots on the west side of the track.
Purdue returns to action after a week off for its second-consecutive home meet. The Boilermakers bring seven individual outdoor school record holders and the men’s program’s best 4x400m relay team into the meet, which they are hosting for the first time since 2004. The men’s team will look to improve upon its 56 points and ninth-place finish from last year, while the women will try to better their 37 points and 10th-place finish.
Here is a look at how the men’s events appear to shake out, based on times and marks from this year, as well as last year’s Big Ten Championships.
Purdue’s Raheem Mostert and Ohio State’s Timothy Faust have developed a competitive rivalry. Mostert won the Big Ten Championships indoors in the 60m and 200m dashes, robbing Faust of a repeat in the 200m, as he took second. Faust is the top returner from last year’s outdoor 100m and 200m Big Ten Championships where he took third and second, respectively. Mostert, a junior dual sport athlete with football, is in his first year of competing outdoors and has the top 100m time in the Big Ten this season, with a mark of 10.25 seconds. Mostert defeated Faust in the 200m two weeks ago on the same track to win the Dave Rankin Invite.
Eric Harris II also looks to play a part for the Boilermakers in both events. He has the seventh-fastest 100m time in the Big Ten this season and the fourth-fastest 200m. He took fifth and seventh last year at Big Tens, respectively. Also in the mix is Illinois’ Brandon Stryganek who has the second-fastest 100m and third-fastest 200m in the Big Ten this spring. Nebraska’s Ricco Hall has the fastest 200m outdoors this year.
Kevin Griffith has the school’s fifth-fastest 800m time in history, a mark of 1:48.64 that ranks third in the Big Ten. He will be up against Indiana’s Tretez Kinnaird of Indiana who has the conference’s best clocking of the season, with a time of 1:47.99. The top returning finisher from last year is Wisconsin’s Austin Mudd who took fourth at the 2013 Big Ten Championships. He currently sits seventh in the conference this year. Penn State sophomore Brannon Kidder boasts the second-best 800m time this year in the Big Ten.
Sophomore Matthew McClintock is the school’s 5k record holder and is knocking on the door of the 10k program standard. He currently has the top 10k time in the Big Ten and is 11th in the 5k. McClintock scored at Big Tens as a freshman, taking seventh in the 5k and sixth in the 10k. He is the top returner from last year’s Big Ten Championships 10k. Wisconsin will have its usual force of distance runners, including Mohammed Ahmed who has the top 5k in the Big Ten this year. The Badgers’ Reed Connor has the third-fastest 5k in the league and is the top returner from the event last year, where he finished second.
Jake Waterman lead’s the Boilermakers steeplechase group. He has the Big Ten’s third-best time on the year with a mark of 8:51.03, which also ranks third in Purdue history. Wisconsin’s Alex Brill is the returning champion in the event and also has the conference’s top time this year, a time of 8:47.32. Indiana also has a quartet of runners that have top-eight times in the conference this year.
Brandon Winters took third in the 110m high hurdles at Big Tens last season and currently sits second in the conference this year. He will be up against last year’s champion Vanier Joseph of Illinois who also has the top time this year. Nebraska will be a team to battle with as well, as the Huskers have four of the top six 110m hurdles in the conference.
In the 400m hurdles, Purdue’s Andre Peart is the school record holder. He sits third in the conference this year, one spot higher than where he finished the Big Ten Championships in 2013. Nebraska’s Miles Ukaoma leads the conference this year as the only hurdle to break 50 seconds. He is third in the country this season, while Cam Viney of Illinois is fifth. Peart is the nation’s eighth-best hurdler so far this year.
Mostert has been a strong boost for the Purdue 4x100m relay team, as he has helped the group to the third-fastest time in the Big Ten this year, up from the sixth-place finish at last year’s championships. The Boilermakers will be up against talented Illinois and Nebraska teams that are the top two in the Big Ten, respectively, so far this season.
The Boilermakers 4x400m relay team broke a 30-year old school record earlier this year, a mark that currently sits third in the league. The Illini and Cornhuskers also have the top two times, respectively, in the conference.
Tyler Askew took fourth in the long jump during the indoor season, but hasn’t yet fared as well outdoors. He currently sits 10th in the conference, though is just two inches outside of eighth. Patrick Raedler of Nebraska is the Big Ten’s best and 14th in the country heading into the weekend. He finished second at Big Ten’s last spring. Raedler and teammate Seth Wiedel are the only two returning scores from last year, as Wiedel took eighth. Wiedel is currently fourth in the conference.
The strength of the Big Ten may very well be its throws. The conference boasts five top-25 shot putters, discus and hammer throwers, and two in the javelin, though both are in the top eight. Coy Blair and Chukwuebuka Enekwechi lead the way for the Boilermakers in the shot put. Blair currently ranks second in school history and is third in the Big Ten this year with a best throw of 19.32m (63-4.75), while Enekwechi is fifth in the conference at 18.98m (62-03.25). Blair finished fifth at the conference meet in 2013. Darrell Hill of Penn State and Antonio James of Michigan State are the Big Ten’s best this year, both with marks of at least 63.5 feet.
In the discus, Purdue sophomore Caleb Fricke put it together at the Dave Rankin Invite and entered the program top-five for the first time with a school record. Fricke threw 59.35m (194-09) to break a 29-year old school record. He currently ranks fourth in the conference and 16th in the country. Nebraska’s Chad Wright is the Big Ten’s best this year and took second at the conference championships a year ago. Michigan State’s Antonio James won the Big Ten Championship last year in the event and currently sits third this year. Iowa’s Gabe Hill is second in the Big Ten and seventh in the country this season. Hill finished third at Big Ten’s in 2013. Seven of the eight scorers from last year return, including the top five.
The hammer throw slates Enekwechi and Wisconsin’s Michael Lihrman against each other. Enekwechi took fourth in the conference last year as a freshman and currently sits second, behind Lihrman, with a school record and Nigerian national record of 68.53m (224-10). Lihrman has been hot as of late, and threw the No. 5 throw in the country last weekend, a mark of 71.10m (233-03).
Now, here’s a look at how the women’s events appear to shake out, based on times and marks from this year, as well as last year’s Big Ten Championships.
Ohio State and Penn State have had the best sprint seasons so far in the Big Ten, but Michigan State looks to be tough in the 200m. Mahagony Jones of Penn State looks to defend her 100m Big Ten title, but has the second-best time in the conference this year, as Ohio State’s Ashlee Abraham, who took third last year, paces the league so far this year. Purdue’s Devynne Charlton, a freshman, leads the Boilermakers with the seventh-best time in the league this season.Twyla Winfrey could work her way into the mix, as she is currently 15th, just 0.10 of a second outside the top eight.
Jones will look to improve upon her second-place 200m finish from last year, and has the conference’s top time this season. Abraham and Jones will go back and forth as Abraham took fourth a year ago and currently sits third this season. The Spartans have a pair of top-four individuals in the league with Alicia Evans and Jellisa Westney. Purdue’s top competitor is freshman Carmiesha Cox who currently sits 21st, though she is getting healthier after missing indoor season with an injury.
In the 400m, Megan Geyen of Minnesota is the top returner, as she took second a year ago. She currently is fifth in the conference this season. Dynasty McGee of Penn State, the fourth-place finisher last year, leads the Big Ten this season. Purdue’s Aarin Jones looks to score in the event and sits sixth in the conference.
The Purdue women have been the strongest in the 800m this season. Kari Shoolbraid set the school record and leads the conference with a time of 2:04.66, which is more than two seconds better than Michigan’s Danielle Pfeifer who is second in the Big Ten. Purdue’s BreAnna Smith is third in the conference this year, though neither she nor Shoolbraid scored at Big Tens last season. Vanessa McLeod did score last year and is the top returner from the 2013 championships where she took second. McLeod is coming off an injury that forced her to miss the indoor season, though will compete to be in the mix.
Michigan and Michigan State have dominated the 5k in the Big Ten this year. The two schools boast eight of the top nine runners in the Big Ten in the event, led by Michigan’s Erin Finn who has the third best time in the country this year. The Spartans and Wolverines have also led the conference in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Michigan State’s Leah O’Connor, who set the Rankin Track and Field Facility record in the 1,500m two weeks ago, leads the conference in the steeplechase and looks to defend her title. Alex Leptich of Michigan, who took seventh at Big Tens last season, is second this year. Purdue’s Blair Doney is the school record holder in the event and is third in the conference.
Charlton and Ciana Tabb are two of the top-nine 100m hurdles in the conference. Tabb currently ranks sixth and Charlton ninth. Michigan’s Cindy Ofili leads the conference and is 14th in the country. She took third last season and will be up against the 2013 conference champion, Evonne Britton of Penn State. Britton is currently second in the conference this year.
The Purdue women have chased the school record in the 4x400m relay all season, but haven’t quite gotten over the top. The Boilermaker group is currently third in the conference behind Penn State and Iowa.
Nikki Nunn is just a centimeter behind the Big Ten leader in the long jump this season. Nunn took the bronze medal at the conference championships a year ago. Last year’s runner-up Erin Busbee of Michigan currently sits 10th in the conference.
In the triple jump, Cierra Brown took fourth outdoors last season and was fourth at the indoor championships this year. She currently sits fifth in the conference standings this season behind Spartans Tori Franklin and Ashley Stacey and Big Ten leader from Nebraska, Ellie Ewere, who is fifth in the country this year.
The Dani Bunch-Kyla Buckley rivalry will go on one last time at the Big Ten Championships. Bunch is a two-time defending outdoor shot put champion, but Indiana’s Buckley has edged Bunch the past two years in the indoor event. Bunch leads the conference this spring, three and a quarter inches better than Buckley who currently sits second. Bunch and Buckley both have top-10 marks in the country.
Bunch will also try to score for the second year in-a-row in the hammer throw where she took fourth last season. She is currently sixth in the Big Ten. Melissa Kurzdorfer of Penn State leads the conference and looks to better her second-place finish from the last year’s conference meet.