Big Ten Men's Indoor Track and Field Championships Preview
Feb. 21, 2007
February 24-25 Indiana University Bloomington, Ind. Harry Gladstein Fieldhouse
All 10 conference squads will converge upon the Harry Gladstein Fieldhouse on the Indiana University campus to vie for the title at the 2007 Big Ten Men's Indoor Track and Field Championships. Among the field are two teams ranked amongst the nation's elite in No. 2 Wisconsin and No. 11 Michigan, as well as countless individuals among the NCAA's top performers in their respective events.
Illinois has won 21 Big Ten championships in its history, but has not taken home the title since 1989. The Illini look to 2006 Freshman of the Year Dominique Worsley, last year's second-place finisher in the 60 and 200 meters, to help the team improve upon its third-place finish from last season.
Indiana lost David Neville, a two-time winner at the 2006 championships to graduation, but boasts two athletes with provisional NCAA scores including Kyle Jenkins, the Big Ten's Field Athlete of the Week on Jan. 9 and 23.
Iowa looks to improve upon its seventh-place finish from a year ago with a strong core of field competitors. Shane Maier finished third in the shot put last year while Adam Hamilton took third in the weight throw. Both have qualified provisionally for the NCAAs in their respective events this season.
Michigan athletes have posted six provisional scores, three of which have come from Lex Williams (mile, 3,000 meters, 5,000 meters). Mike Woods (mile) and Michael Whitehead (triple jump) have also posted provisional marks and were both members of the 2006 All-Conference team.
Jeremy Orr leads Michigan State into Bloomington, already with three NCAA provisional times this season. The junior sprinter has posted provisional cuts in the 60, 200 and 400 meters and was named the Big Ten's Track Athlete of the Week on Jan. 16.
After a second-place finish last year, Minnesota is looking for its first conference title since 1998. The Gophers return four athletes from last year's All-Big Ten second team, including Aaron Buzard (400 meters) and Adam Schnaible (weight throw), who have both posted NCAA provisional times this season.
Ohio State will lean on its perennially strong throwing squad at this year's championships, led by Lenny Jatsek, the latest of four consecutive Buckeyes to have won the weight throw at the Big Ten meet. Jatsek, a 2006 All-American, is one of five returning first-team selections as Taylor Candella, Gerald Griffin, Joe Gourley and Jeff See won the Distance Medley Relay last year.
Sophomore Ryan Fritz leads a young Penn State squad, who finished eighth at last year's championships. Fritz was a second-team All-Big Ten selection in 2006 after tying for second in the high jump. Fritz was named the Big Ten's Field Athlete of the Week on Feb. 13 for posting a career-best mark of 7'02.5" in the same event.
2006 All-Big Ten first-team selection Rickey Pinkney returns to lead the Boilermakers having garnered an individual championship in the 60-meter hurdles last year. The senior has provisionally qualified for the NCAAs in the event, clocking a time of 7.80, which is .03 seconds better than his finish at the 2006 meet.
Wisconsin head coach Ed Nuttycombe needs just one more team championship to tie the conference record, already with 21 to his name in his 24-year career with the Badgers. Wisconsin has won the last four championships and hopes to repeat behind the leadership of senior Chris Solinsky, last year's Athlete of the Year and Championships.