Big Ten Indoor Track and Field Championships Preview

Feb. 23, 2012

Championships Central

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The University of Nebraska and the Bob Devaney Sports Center Indoor Track will play host to the 2012 Big Ten Indoor Track and Field Championships, scheduled to begin Friday and run through Saturday. Minnesota looks for its fourth consecutive conference title and fifth overall after totaling 117.33 points at last year’s championships to earn the win. Indiana was second with 104.50 points, and Wisconsin was third with 96. Iowa (88 points) and Ohio State (86) rounded out the top five.

In the sprints and middle distances, Indiana’s Kind Butler returns as the 60-meter dash champion, while Iowa’s Justin Austin and Ohio State’s Thomas Murdaugh look to defend their 200- and 400-meter dash crowns, respectively. Butler and Illinois’ defending 60-meter hurdles champion Andrew Riley are tied for the Big Ten’s top time in the 60-meter dash, while Butler also holds the top mark in the 200-meter dash. Murdaugh owns the top spot in the 400-meter event entering the championships. Minnesota’s Harun Abda looks to defend his 600-meter crown and claim top honors in the 800-meter run. The Golden Gopher sophomore boasts top times in both events, with teammate David Pachuta one tenth of a second off the pace in the 800.

Indiana’s Andrew Bayer, the 2011 Track Athlete of the Year, returns to defend his title in the 3,000-meter run. Bayer also looks to improve upon last year’s second-place finish in the one-mile run, but Ohio State’s Cory Leslie holds the conference’s top time heading into the championships. The Hoosiers’ Andrew Poore attempts to claim another 5,000-meter run title, but Minnesota’s Hassan Mead claims the top time heading into the event.

The field events are loaded with returning talent and newcomers ready to challenge for event titles. Troy Davis of Iowa (triple jump) and Micah Hegerle (weight) return to defend their crown. Nebraska looks to make an impact in the field as Chris Phipps (long jump), Luke Pinkelman (shot put) and Nate Polacek (pole vault) all hold top marks heading into the championships. In the high jump, Indiana’s Darius King and Penn State’s Sean Reilly, who placed third and sixth last year, respectively, return to the championships. Both jumpers are tied for the conference’s top mark heading into the event. Wisconsin’s Japheth Cato, the 2011 Freshman of the Year, returns to defend his heptathlon title after recording 5,742 points in last year’s event.

Five squads appear in the latest USTFCCCA National Rankings heading into the championships. Minnesota sits at No. 8, followed by Indiana at No. 11 and Ohio State at No. 13. Nebraska checks in at No. 15, with Penn State sitting at No. 18.

BTN will air tape-delay coverage of the Big Ten Men’s & Women’s Indoor Track & Field Championships at 1:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, March 10.