2007 Big Ten Championships Preview
Feb. 22, 2007
Indiana will play host to the 2007 Big Ten Men's Indoor Track and Field Championships this weekend. Wisconsin enters this year's meet as winners of the last six Championships and nine of the past 12. While the whole field will be looking to end the Badgers' dominance, UW comes in with another strong team.
Here's a quick look at some of the top athletes to watch for by event group in this year's championships.
Last year's runner-up and reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year, Dominique Worsley of Illinois will look to improve on his stellar freshman campaign. The Illini sophomore's best showing of the season was a 6.79-second effort in January that missed the provisional mark by 0.05 seconds.
The field in the 200m and 400m won't have to face reigning gold medalist David Neville of Indiana, who graduated after the 2006 season, but the field will still be highly competitive. Leading the way in the 200m dash, Orr owns the conference's only provisional qualifying time in the event at 21.11 seconds. Minnesota's Aaron Buzard is close behind the Spartan junior sprinter with a time of 21.28, narrowly missing the provisional qualifying standard by 0.05 seconds. Worsley and Omole will again challenge for podium spots in the 200 after both placing last year's top eight. Omole currently holds the third-best time in the conference at 21.52 seconds, and Cole is just behind him at 21.54.
In the 400m, Buzard leads the way with a provisional qualifying time of 46.57 seconds. Illinois sophomore Lesiba Masheto holds the second-fastest mark in the Big Ten with a time of 46.76. Orr has also already qualified for the NCAA meet provisionally with a season-best performance of 46.79. After finishing fourth at last year's meet, Michigan's Stann Waithe will look to close out his career with another strong performance. His time of 47.33 is the fourth-best in the conference this season.
Purdue senior Rickey Pinkney returns to the Big Ten Championships in search of a second straight title in the 60m hurdles. He has clocked a provisional qualifying time of 7.78 seconds this season, which is 0.03 seconds faster than his winning time last year. He will have strong competition from 2006 runner-up Jeff Porter of Michigan whose 7.78-second performance leads the Big Ten field. A split second behind him is Pinkney's teammate Keith Hopkins with another provisional qualifying time of 7.79 seconds.
Michigan's Andrew Ellerton excels in the 800m where he holds the top time of the year at 1:49.92. His primary competition in that event will be last year's bronze medalist Mark Miller (1:50.14) of Penn State and Ohio State Jeff See (1:50.83).
Woods' teammate Lex Williams and Badger freshmen Brandon Bethke and Craig Miller are the only others to have notched provisional marks this season.
Solinsky also leads a deep Wisconsin unit in the 5000m run with an automatic qualifying time of 13:30.74. Eagon and Nelson are the only other participants who enter Saturday's meet with NCAA automatic times, while four others have qualified provisionally.
In the distance medley relay, the Gophers have the only provisional qualifying mark at 9:44.33. The next closest group is more than four seconds slower, as defending champion Ohio State holds a season mark of 8:48.61.
In the pole vault, Michigan State's Mark Langolis leads the field with a 5.21m effort, barely edging Indiana's Jeffrey cover's season-best jump of 5.20m. Both marks are NCAA provisional qualifying numbers. Also pushing for the title will be the Purdue pair of John Porter and Andrew Rademacher, who both finished among the top eight in last year's championships.
Indiana's Kiwan Lawson again has the best long jump entering the meet at 7.75m, and he will be looking to improve on this 2006 runner-up performance. Wisconsin's Paul Hubbard is next at 7.39m, followed closely by Penn State's Ryan Kleintop (7.33m).
The triple jump field is deep with five athletes having qualified provisionally for the NCAA meet. Michigan senior Michael Whitehead returns to the championships in search of his second straight gold medal, leading the field with a jump of 16.02m. Michigan State's Jonathan Allen holds a 15.90m effort that is second-best in the conference, while Indiana's Kyle Jenkins (15.86m), Ohio State's Brandon Cathcart (15.64m) and Minnesota's Derek Gearman (15.43m) will likely be the toughest competition for Whitehead. All except for Allen scored top-eight finishes in last year's championships.
Throws / Multi
The Buckeye's Leonard Jatsek returns to defend his gold in the weight throw. He has the second-best mark in the Big Ten this season with a throw of 20.29m. He will be pushed by last year's runner-up Adam Schnaible of Minnesota, who also has an NCAA provisional qualifying weight throw of 21.50m this season, the best in the conference. Other top competitors will be Iowa's Adam Hamilton and Purdue's Ben Harpenau.
Wisconsin senior Joe Detmer has the top heptathlon score of the season with 5651 points, while Penn State's Chris Morrisey and Shawn Colligan have the next-best scores on the season.