Wisconsin Tops Defending Champion Minnesota To Win Big Ten Outdoor Track & Field Title
May 16, 2004
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Entering Sunday's final day of the 2004 Big Ten Men's Outdoor Track Championships, it was known that defending champion Minnesota and powerhouse Wisconsin would once again battle for the title. After all, the Badgers and Gophers have spoken for each Big Ten title since 1995.
This year, Wisconsin regained bragging rights with an eight-point victory over Minnesota. The Badgers scored 165 points, while the defending champion Gophers recorded 157. Ohio State was third with 105, followed by Indiana (92) and Illinois (74) in fourth and fifth, respectively. Host Purdue finished sixth with 62.5 points and Penn State was seventh with 54.5. Michigan (41), Michigan State (34) and Iowa (31) rounded out the field.
Wisconsin's win marks the fourth in the last five years and seventh in the last ten.
"We came from behind and the guys never quit," said Wisconsin head coach Ed Nuttycombe. "They believed in themselves and fought all the way to the end. It was a great track meet that wasn't decided until the last couple events. A great spectator meet, and obviously a great result for the Badgers."
In the final event of the Championships, the 4x400-meter relay, Minnesota set a new track record with a time of 3:06.78, but Wisconsin finished fourth to clinch the Big Ten title for the Badgers. Illinois finished second with a time of 3:09.07, followed by Michigan in third at 3:09.31.
The Gophers squad of Adam Steele, Robb Merritt, Aaron Buzard, and Mitch Potter did exactly what it had to do, but as it turned out, Wisconsin's fourth-place finish in the event and a second and third-place finish in the triple jump put the title out of reach.
Indiana's Aarik Wilson successfully defended his title in the triple jump, winning with a leap of 16.59m (54-05.25). Wilson, who won the event last year with a jump of 16.61, entered this year's contest as the top seed with the Conference's best mark of 16.85m. Wisconsin's Alonzo Moore and Rick Bellford placed second and third in the event, with jumps of 15.98 (52-05.25) and 15.86 (52-00.50), respectively, which ultimately helped clinch the title for the Badgers.
Without question one of the most exciting races of the day was the 1,500 meters. Indiana's Sean Jefferson entered the final stretch as if he was a thoroughbred, striding past Wisconsin's Josh Spiker and Ohio State's Rob Myers for the win at 4:01.86. Jefferson, the 2004 NCAA Indoor champion in the mile, stuck his head out at the finish to beat Spiker by one-hundredth of a second. Spiker finished runner-up with a time of 4:01.87, while Myers was third at 4:02.16.
Jefferson's teammate, David Neville, took home a double-win for the Hoosiers in the 200 and 400 meters.
Neville first captured the 400 title with a track record time of 45.05. After finishing fourth at the Indoor Championships back in February, Neville returned to Outdoors to win with a mark that eclipsed Ohio State's Glenn Davis' record time of 45.53, which was set back in 1958. Minnesota's Potter, the defending Outdoor champion and the 2004 Indoor champion in the event, was clocked in second at 45.27, while his teammate Steele finished third at 46.21.
Neville defeated Ohio State's Joel Brown for the win in the 200, clocking a track record time of 20.39. His time broke Purdue's Larry Burton's time of 20.54, which was set in 1972. Brown finished second at 20.64, followed by Minnesota's Robb Merritt at 20.89.
The 200 and 400-meter wins are the first conference titles of the sophomore's career. Neville did not reach the top eight of either race at last season's championships.
The Buckeye did capture the title in the 110-meter hurdles in record fashion, however, with a Rankin track record time of 13.81. Brown's mark bettered Indiana State's Aubrey Herring's time of 14.04, set back in 1998. Michigan's Jeff Porter was second at 14.22, followed by Jon Mungen of Wisconsin in third at 14.27.
In the 800 meters, Michigan's Andrew Ellerton ran a 1:48.52 to claim first place over Minnesota's Trent Riter (1:49.36). Illinois Trammel Smith (1:49.39) and Wisconsin's Dan Murray (1:49.64) finished third and fourth, while Illinois' Aaron King finished fifth at 1:50.04. Each runner in the top five attained regional qualifying scores.
Illinois made it a 1-2 finish in the 400-meter hurdles, as Abe Jones and Adrian Walker led all competitors in the event. Jones clinched the title with a track-record time of 50.24, which beat the old mark of 50.87, set by Iowa's Pat McGhee in 1986. Walker's 50.41 was good for secoind, while Iowa's Russell Peterson finished third at 50.86.
Wisconsin stormed down the home stretch to claim the first event of the day, the 4x100 meter relay. The Badger squad of Jvontai Hanserd, Paul Hubbard, Scott Starks, and Demi Omole crossed the finish line in 40.24, ahead of Illinois (40.41) and Indiana (40.61). Penn State claimed fourth with a time of 40.61 as well, which clinched regional qualifying times for each of the top four finishers.
Omole also claimed the 100-meter dash for the Badgers with a time of 10.61, bettering Brown of Ohio State (10.73) and Illinois' Andre English (10.91).
After being shutout in both the hammer throw and the discus, Ohio State's Dan Taylor successfully defended his 2003 Outdoor and 2004 Indoor shot put titles with a track record distance of 20.33m (66-08.50). Taylor's victory in the event was his third in three years. Purdue's Nedzad Mulabegovic, who also broke the track record, finished second at 19.93m (65-04.75). Third place was awarded to Steve Manz of Michigan State, after a throw of 19.16m (62-10.50).
Penn State dominated the javelin competition, taking three of the top four spots, including the Big Ten title with Brian Stumpf. He recorded a 65.94m (216-04) throw, bettering Minnesota's Jason Swenson mark of 64.95 (213-01). Nittany Lion teammates Matt Moyer (64.66) and Kyle Wintersteen (60.69) finished third and fourth respectively.
In the pole vault, Michigan State's Brad Gebauer cleared 5.20m (17-00.75) to claim first place, ahead of Wisconsin's Darren Niedermeyer's height of 5.10m (16-08.75). David Stead of Indiana was third at 5.00 (16.04.75).
Ohio State's Brian Olinger displayed an impressive final-lap sprint in the 5,000-meter run to claim the Big Ten title. The Buckeye's time of 14:09.80 was four seconds quicker than a trio of Badgers lurking behind him. Matt Tegenkamp (14:13.55), Chris Solinsky (14:13.72), and Simon Bairu (14:14.08) finished second through fourth, respectively, while Minnesota's Will McComb took fifth at 14:17.27.