Wisconsin Defends Big Ten Men's Indoor Track & Field Title
Feb. 29, 2004
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Wisconsin successfully defended its Big Ten Men's Indoor Track & Field Championship with a 52.5 point victory over second-place Minnesota. The Badgers entered the final day with a commanding lead in the standings and helped maintain that margin with solid performances in the 5000m run, the heptathlon and triple jump in day two scoring finals.
"That was an unbelievable team effort from start to finish," said Wisconsin head coach Ed Nuttycombe. "We got out on a really fast start yesterday and kept coming. I don't think scoring 174.5 points was even on our radar screen. I think we exceeded a lot of expectations."
Four Big Ten indoor championships records fell in the meet over the two days, including the 800m run (Michigan's Nate Brannen), the 5000m run (Wisconsin's Matt Tegenkamp) and the 35-pound weight (Ohio State's Dan Taylor) in Sunday's action. The 3000m run record (Michigan's Nick Willis) had been broken on Saturday.
Entering the day with a 87-point lead in the heptathlon, Wisconsin's Ashraf Fadel held on in the final three events to win the event with a NCAA automatic qualifying score of 5549, outdistancing second-place Travis Brandstatter of Minnesota by 76 points. In Sunday's heptathlon events, Brandstatter posted the best time in the 60m high hurdles, Wisconsin's Ryan Tremelling topped the pole vault, while his teammate Ben Roland posted the top time in the 1000 meter run. In all the top six heptathlon finishers each posted NCAA provisional qualifying scores. With Fadel, Tremelling, and Roland all finishing within the top four, the Gophers extended their overall lead in the championships to 65 points after seven scored events.
Ohio State's Dan Taylor shattered his own Big Ten indoor championship record and the facility record in the 35-pound weight throw with an NCAA automatic qualifying throw of 23.07m. Purdue's Keith McBride (21.14m) and Scott Hecht (20.43m) finished second and third in the event, putting up NCAA provisionally qualifying efforts.
Michigan's Nick Willis won the mile run with a dominating final lap. Willis took his first lead in the race at the start of the final lap and proceeded to outdistance second place finisher - Indiana's Sean Jefferson - by 2.01 seconds. Willis' time of 4:04.47 provisionally qualifies him for the NCAA Indoor Championships.
In the 400m dash, Minnesota's Mitch Potter won with a final time of 46.75 seconds, outrunning Indiana freshman David Neville, who placed second with a 47.50. Both times were provisional NCAA qualifiers. Penn State's Ernie Terrell took third in the event with a 47.70, just edging Minnesota's Mikael Jakobsson (47.74).
Purdue's Kenneth Baxter took first in the 60m dash with a 6.73 second effort, slipping past Wisconsin's Demi Omole (6.76), Minnesota's Robb Merritt (6.82), and Michigan's Nathan Taylor (6.84). Baxter had taken second in the 60 in the 2003 Big Ten Championships.
Nate Brannen of Michigan became the third athlete of the championship to set a new Big Ten indoor championship record with his winning 1:47.74 in the final of the 800m run. Brannen outdistanced Indiana's Rodney Hollis by close to two seconds with his NCAA automatic qualifying score. Brannen's teammate Andrew Ellerton rounded out the top three finishers in the race.
"I feel really happy with my performance. I came into the meet wanting to get the Big Ten record, but the biggest thing was to do well as a team," said Brannen. "We wanted to finish in the top three, and that's what we did. I'm pretty pumped about the 800-meter win, but pulling it together as a team is so much better than an individual win."
Michigan's Jeff Porter gave the host Wolverines another event win with a 7.82 second effort in the 60m high hurdles. Illinois' Andre English took second in the event at 7.92 seconds while Minnesota's Jorrone Willamson, Indiana's Stephanos Ioannou, and Purdue's Kern Woods finished three-four-five.
Minnesota's Mitch Potter edged defending 200 champion Kenneth Baxter to set a track record and win the event. Potter finished at 21.09 seconds while Baxter posted a 21.19. Minnesota's Robb Merritt, Indiana's David Neville and Penn State's Ernie Terrell also posted NCAA provisionally qualifying times in the event, along with Potter and Baxter.
Wisconsin helped pad its team lead with a one-two finish in the triple jump. Alonzo Moore took the top spot for the Badgers with a jump of 15.75m, good enough to provisionally qualify him for NCAAs. His teammate Rick Bellford took second with a leap of 15.55m, just ahead of Michigan's Michael Whitehead at 15.53m. Moore and Bellfords finish moved Wisconsin into a nearly insurmountable 62-point lead with just three scored events remaining in the championship.
Minnesota's John Albert led a top three sweep of the high jump for the Golden Gophers. Albert posted a 2.21m jump, which qualified him provisionally for NCAAs, along with teammate Kevin Netzer (2.18m). Josh Paulson (2.15m) completed the trio of top finishers for Minnesota. The high finish of the group moved the Gophers into second place in the team standings.
In the 5000m run, Wisconsin's Matt Tegenkamp broke the fourth Big Ten indoor record of the day with a 13:57.58 final to slip past teammate Simon Bairu (13.59.48). Both of those times, along with third place Steve Sherer's (MSU) were provisional NCAA qualifiers. The top-two finish for Tegenkamp and Bairu - combined with Badgers Tim Keller and Tim Nelson finishing sixth and seventh - wrapped up the meet for Wisconsin, holding off Minnesota's late charge.
Minnesota prevailed in the final event of the day, the 4x400m relay, when anchor Mitch Potter, who had earlier won both the 200m and 400m dashes, took the baton in second place and motored past Illinois' anchor to defend the Gophers' title in the event. Both Minnesota and Illinois posted NCAA provisionally qualifying times in the event.