May 11, 2006
Defending men's outdoor champion Wisconsin will look to claim its third-consecutive and 16th overall Big Ten crown this weekend at the 2006 Big Ten Outdoor Track and Field Championships, hosted by Michigan State University. The three-day event will kick off on Fri., May 12, beginning at noon ET, with the 100-meter portion of the decathlon competition. Wisconsin is the league's sole representative in the latest Trackwire 25 Rankings as the Badgers are tied with North Carolina for the 11th position. Michigan leads all squads with 30 Big Ten team titles.
This is the fourth time the Michigan State has hosted the Men's Big Ten Outdoor Track and Field Championships. The Spartans first held the event in 1960 and placed fourth with 22 team points, the highest finish for the squad while competing in East Lansing, Mich.
Sprints and Hurdles
Wisconsin's Demi Omole, the 2005 100-meter Big Ten Champion, leads the way in the highly competitive event with the fastest time in the conference this season after clocking in at 10.11 at the SeaRay Relays on April 14. Omole is joined by four more Big Ten sprinters that have met NCAA regional qualifying times, including Illini freshman Dominique Worsley who ranks second, Ohio State's Anthony Cole who sits at the No. 3 spot, Penn State's Alex Langan in the fourth position while Adam Harris, a freshman from Michigan rounds out the regional qualifiers in the event. Only five hundredths of a second separate the student-athletes ranked second through fifth as Worsley boasts a time of 10.41, Cole has finished in 10.43, Langan follows right behind at 10.44 and Harris has clocked in at 10.46.
In the 200-meter event, Hoosier David Neville has the best regular-season time of 20.74 the after capturing the runner-up spot at last year's Big Ten Championships. The junior will be battling three other runners with regional qualifying times, including Wisconsin's Omole and Illinois' Worsley.
Neville also leads the way in the 400 meters, an event which he won a year ago at the outdoor championships, and is one of five Big Ten competitors to boast regional qualifying marks in the event. The Hoosier captured his title last year with a time of :45.89 and enters the 2006 championships with a .14 second improvement, boasting a mark of 45.75. Other qualifiers include Minnesota and Michigan juniors Aaron Buzard and Stann Waithe, respectively. IU sophomore Doug Dayhoff ranks fourth while Wisconsin's James Groce is the lone freshman with a regional qualifying time.
2005 runner-up, Ricky Pinkney of Purdue will be vying for a first-place finish at the 2006 Big Ten Championships in the 110-meter hurdles. He will have to fend off in-state rival Ioannou Stephanos of Indiana, who enters this year's event just .01 seconds behind Pinkney. The Boilermaker junior has notched a regional qualifying mark and leads the conference with a time of 13.89 while Stephanos, also a junior, recorded his best time of 13.90 at Bill Hayes Invite on May 5. Four more hurdlers join Pinkney and Stephanos with regional qualifying marks. Jeff Porter of Michigan, Purdue's Keith Hopkins, Illini Andre English and John Childress of Michigan State round out the qualifiers and top-six performers in the league thus far this season.
In the 400-meter hurdles, one of the toughest races of the competition, Illinois' Abe Jones leads the way for the Big Ten after recording a regional qualifying time of 50.37 at the prestigious Drake Relays on April 29. He is joined by Wolverine Dan Harmsen and Hoosier Ryan Smith in the top-three on the conference spots. Harmsen has kicked off his rookie season with a second-place ranking and a 52.26 qualifying time. Smith, a sophomore, also notched a qualifying mark after finishing in 52.35 at the Indiana Relays and is currently ranked third.
The 800 meters should pan out to be just as exciting, if not more than last year as five competitors that finished in the top-eight of the 2005 even return this season and rank in the top-10 of the conference standings. Minnesota's Trent Riter, Illinois' Aaron King and Michigan State's Phil Marlatt have all regionally qualified for the NCAA championships so far this season and rank one, two and three in the standings, respectively. Riter, who finished sixth last year, recorded his fastest time of the season at the 27th annual Sun Angel Classic on April 14, crossing the line in 1:49.75. King is right on Riter's tail as the Illini enters the championships this weekend with a season-best 1:49.80. Marlatt is the third Big Ten student-athlete to boast a regional qualifying time of 1:50.00. Illinois, Michigan State, Minnesota and Penn State all have two competitors currently ranked.
The 1,500 meter race will highly competitive with nine conference standouts boasting NCAA regional qualifying times. Wisconsin's Chris Solinsky, last year's runner-up in the event, also returns this season and comes in with league-best and regional qualifying time of 3:39.80. His 2006 season-best is 5.07 seconds faster than his finish at the 2005 outdoor championships. Hoosier senior John Jefferson follows in second-place while Ohio State's Brian Olinger enters with the Big Ten's third best time on the season.
Solinsky has set the bar for the league in the 5,000-meter field with a time of 13.27.94. His time, along with seven other Big Ten competitors' times, regionally qualifies for the NCAA Championships. He is joined by teammates Christian Wagner (third) and Matt Withrow (eight) in the top-10 rankings, both boasting regional qualifying times. Iowa junior Micah VanDenend has really come on for the Hawkeyes this year and sits in second place with a time of 13:55.96 which was achieved at the Stanford Invite on March 31. Illinois' Trent Hoerr and Lex Willimas round out the top five
The 10,000 meter race will feature eight NCAA provisional qualifiers and one automatic selection in Wisconsin's Simon Bairu. Bairu, the 2005 runner-up in the event, ran a 28.36.11 at theOregon Invite on April 21 to guarantee him a spot in the NCAA Championships. He is joined by four of his teammates ranked in the top-10, three of who boast qualifying times. Iowa's Eric MacTaggart, Indiana's Stephen Haas, Ohio State's Olinger and Minnesota's Antonio Vega will also look to make and impact this weekend and will be vying for the individual crown. Michigan State's Matt Bartlebaugh looks to capture his first 10,000-meter title in his last meet at Ralph Young Field.
Rounding out the distance events is the 3,000 meter steeplechase, an event in that OSU's Olinger is on pace to a 2006 individual championship. He boasts the best conference mark this year with a time of 8:45.05 and is one of nine competitors that have tallied regional qualifying times thus far. In-state rivals, Purdue's David Rae and Indiana's Eric Redman will prove to be tough competition as well, posting the second- and third-best times, respectively, in the Big Ten throughout the regular season.
With a time of 40.31, the 4x100-meter relay team from Wisconsin has the top mark for Big Ten teams during the regular season. The Badger squad from 2005 won the event crown and UW will look to repeat in a similar fashion as the 2006 team's season-best time is .01 seconds faster than the mark recorded at the championships last year. Rick Belford teams up with Paul Hubbard and Chad Melotte while Demi Omole anchors to make up the quartet. Also meeting regional qualifying marks are Ohio State, Indiana and Illinois. The Illini squad finished as the runner-up last year while the Buckeyes and Hoosiers placed fourth and sixth, respectively.
The final race of the Big Ten Championships, the 4x400-meter relay, will feature three teams who have already exceeded regional qualifying marks, and who will be looking to capture that relay title. Runner-up in the event last year, Indiana, posted the conference's best time of the year just two weeks ago at the Penn Relays, finishing in 3:07.71. The teams in pursuit of the Hoosiers will include Wisconsin and Minnesota, both of whom have also regionally qualified for the NCAA Championshiops.
Minnesota's John Albert, the defending Big Ten high jump champion, is currently tied with temmate Kevin Netzer for first-place thus far. Both Golden Gophers have met regional qualifying heights of 7"0.5" (2.15 meters). They are joined by Brad Miller of Michigan and Ryan Fritz and Tyler Fedeli of Penn State, all of whom are tied for third with 6'10.5" (2.10 meters), also regionally qualifying them for the NCAA championships.
The Spartans will look to gain valuable team points in the pole vault as Jason Brown and Brad Gebauer hold the top-two heights on the year in addition to a junior Mark Langlois' five-way tie for third place. Illinois, Inidana and Purdue all have two student-athletes represented in the top-10 rankings. 2005 runner-up John Adamaczyk is one of the Illini that will be contention for the event crown this weekend.
The long jump is up for grabs with last year's defending champion, Aarik Wilson's, graduation. Pierre Bush, who has jumped 25'1" (7.65 meters) this season to lead the conference, hopes to take home the gold medal, but Iowa's Matty Gorman has managed to tie the Illini, meeting the same distance this season. Both student-athletes have notched regional qualifying marks, as well as four other Big Ten competitors, and will be fighting for the top spot on the podium. Penn State's Ryan Kleintop ranks third behind the tie for first place and Michigan State's Julien, last year's runner-up in the event, sits at the No. 4 spot..
The triple jump crown will also be up for grabs this season as Aarik Wilson was the event winner last year. It is only fitting that the 2005 runner-up, Wisconsin's Alonzo Moore, sits atop the league standings thus far this season after jumping 51'9.25" (15.78 meters) at the Texas Relays on April 8.
After redshirting last year, Minnesota's Karl Erickson leads the Big Ten in both the shot put and discus events and has the opportunity to win his fourth discus title in four years of competition. Two Hawkeyes man the second-place positions in both events. Sophomore Shane Maier has tossed a distance of 60'3.5" (18.38 meters) in the shot put while senior Tim Brodersen tallied a mark of 187'9.5" (57.24 meters) in the discus competition at the Musco Twilight meet on April 22. Indiana's Ryan Ketchum has positioned himself in third place in both events with marks of 60'2" (18.34 meters) and 178'2.75" (54.33 meters) in the shot put and discus, respectively.
In the hammer throw competition, Iowa's Adam Hamilton recorded a regional qualifying mark of 220'5.5" (67.20 meters) at the Mark Messersmith Invite to lead all conference competitors. He is trailed closely by Indiana's Will Fleming who sits in second place after meeting a distance of 215'9.25" (65.77 meters) on May 5. Four more Big Ten student-athletes have regionally qualified for the NCAA Championships in Minnesota's Adam Schnaible, Ohio State's Leonard Jatsek and Dave Ebersole and Penn State's Scott Vernon.
In the javelin competition, Penn State's boast four competitors ranked in the top-10 league standings, including junior Allen Pettern who sits in first-place with a regional qualifying throw of 218'2" (66.50 meters). Purdue will be represented by two Boilermakers while Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio State and Wisconsin will all have one student-athlete vying for the individual title.
Three Wisconsin Badgers will highlight the heptathlon this weekend, ranking one, two and three in the decathlon. Senior Joe Detmer leads the way and is the only Big Ten student-athlete to boast an NCAA provisional qualifying score of 7319.00. Ben Roland is only one of two competitors to be ranked in the top-10 this season that finished in the top-eight at last year's championships. Roland is ranked second with 6990.00 points while teammate Nathan Brown sits at third with a score of 6930.00. UW had dominated the competition this year with two more Badgers ranking in the top-six. Brennan Boettcher has moved his way into the No. 5 position this season Peter Dykstra, the only other student-athlete to compete in the decathlon last year, is ranked sixth. Nittany Lion freshman, Chris Morrissey, sits in the middle of the five Badgers as he is currently ranked fourth after scoring 6843.00 points at the Sea Ray Relays.