May 13, 2007
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA. - Wisconsin won its fourth consecutive Big Ten Outdoor Track and Field title Sunday afternoon on the Nittany Lion Track on the Penn State University campus. The Badgers amassed 145.5 team points through the three-day event to outdistance second-place Minnesota (100.5) by a 45-point margin.
Michigan was close behind he Gophers with a total of 94 while the host Nittany Lions (93.5) moved up three spots from their 2006 finish to fourth. Purdue made the biggest improvement from last year, placing fifth (92.5), moving up from 10th in 2006.
Rounding out the field, Illinois came in sixth (81.5), Iowa placed seventh (74.5), Indiana finished eighth (56), Ohio State was ninth (52) and Michigan State ended in 10th (28).
With the win, Wisconsin becomes the first team in history to win the Big Ten "Triple Crown" (conference championships in cross country, indoor track and outdoor track) in four consecutive seasons. The team championship also gives head coach Ed Nuttycombe 23 team championships in his 24-year tenure with the Badgers, tying him for the most titles won by a Big Ten coach in any sport. Twenty-three championships is also the most by any coach in Big Ten track and field history.
Wisconsin entered the day in front of the team standings with a 19-point lead over Minnesota, and extended it on the strength of four event wins on Sunday.
The Badgers opened the final day of competition by tacking 10 points on to their total with a first-place finish in the 4x100-meter relay. The foursome of Dan Goesch, James Groce, Paul Hubbard and Demi Omole clocked in at 40.19, marking the fourth consecutive year a Wisconsin squad has won the event.
Michigan came in second at 40.76, marking the second NCAA Regional qualifying time of the event, while Ohio State joined the Badgers and Wolverines on the podium at 41.01.
Indiana crossed the line second in the race, but was disqualified after Kiwan Lawson lost the baton.
Omole later became the first athlete in Big Ten history to win two events in four consecutive years as he finished first in the 100-meter dash in a facility-record time of 10.19. The senior also became the first athlete in championships history to win that event in four consecutive seasons.
Michigan took second in the race as Adam Harris crossed the finish line at 10:48, joining Omole as a qualifier for NCAA Regionals. Minnesota's Ibrahim Kabia completed the podium with a third-place time of 10.54.
Omole added to his gold medal collection with a win in the 200 meters, clocking in at 20.92. Purdue's Jh'Rome Tuggle was right on the Badger's heels at 21.10 for second, while Illinois' Lesiba Masheto was neck-and-neck with the Boilermaker, finishing in third at 21.11.
The Badgers extended their lead further, placing three runners in the top five of the 1500-meter run. Chris Solinsky was unable to defend his 2006 title, but clocked in second at 3:44.03, half a second behind Justin Switzer of Michigan (3:43.49).
Wisconsin and Michigan owned the top six times in the race as Badger freshman John Bolas placed third (3:44.92) and classmate Craig Miller took fifth (3:46.95). Wolverine junior Mike Woods took fourth (3:45.73) and teammate Sean McNamara was sixth (3:48.94). The top five times were regional qualifiers.
The Badgers continued to break away from the pack placing the top two runners in the 5,000 meters. Senior Tim Nelson clocked in first at 14:08.25, followed by sophomore Matt Withrow at 14:11.07.
Iowa's Micah VanDenend finished third at 14:11.59, while Michigan's Mike Woods was fourth at 14:14.18, and Wolverine sophomore Victor Gras was fifth at 14:18.83. The three medalists finished in NCAA Regional qualifying times.
Michigan also grabbed first-place points in the day's third race as senior Jeff Porter clocked in at 13.70 in the 110-meter hurdles to win the event for the second-straight year. Purdue received a big boost in the team standings as senior Rickey Pinkney took second (13.78) and junior Keith Hopkins placed third (13.89).
The top six times in the 110-meter hurdles came in under the NCAA Regional qualifying standard as Michigan State's John Childress came in fourth (14.01), Penn State's Ron Jules placed fifth (14.17) and Wisconsin's Nate Larkin was sixth (14.26).
The Wolverines also earned first-place honors in the 800 meters as Andrew Ellerton distanced himself from second-place Trammel Smith of Illinois by over a second. The Michigan senior clocked in at 1:47.87, while Smith followed at 1:48.85.
Penn State's Mark Miller took third place honors at 1:49.57, while Minnesota's Walter Langkau was not far behind in fourth at 1:49.95. Michigan's John D'Arcy (1:50.17) and Ohio State's Joe Gourley (1:50.32) finished in fifth and sixth, respectively, rounding out the field of competitors to qualify for NCAA Regionals in the event.
Michigan won its first field event of the weekend as Michael Whitehead took first in the triple jump with a distance of 52'11.50". Jonathan Allen led Michigan State to its highest finish of the championships, taking second at 52'01.00". Illinois' Nick Brown also earned a spot on the podium with a distance of 51'01.50". The seven top finishers in the event all recorded distances surpassing the NCAA Regional mark.
Illinois won its first individual title of the championships as Masheto clocked in at 45.54 in the 400-meter dash. Minnesota's Aaron Buzard joined the Illinois sophomore in qualifying for NCAA Regionals, placing second with a time of 45.80. Wisconsin's James Groce rounded out the top three at 45.89.
The Illini got their second gold medal not long after as senior Adrian Walker took first place in he 400-meter hurdles in a facility-record time of 50.29. Ohio State's Elon Simms was one half-second off the leader's pace, clocking in at 50.79, while Iowa's Ray Varner came in third at 50.99.
Illinois and OSU each received more team points in the event as Buckeye sophomore Matt Comer clocked in fourth at 51.64, and Illini freshman Joey Hodges came in fifth at 51.72. Overall, seven Big Ten athletes came in under the NCAA Regional standard in the event.
The Illini continued their run on the team standings, finishing first in the 4x400-meter relay to close out the 2007 championships. The squad of Hodges, Masheto, Smith and Walker clocked in at 3:07.32, barely edging the foursome from Minnesota who clocked in at 3:07.38.
Indiana finished third in the event at 3:08.46, while Ohio State (3:08.85), Michigan (3:08.86), Iowa (3:08.97) and Wisconsin (3:09.59) also recorded regional qualifying times.
Iowa won the first field event of the day as sophomore John Hickey threw for a first-place distance of 58'04.50" in the shot put. The Hawkeyes also got big team points in the event as junior Shane Maier took fourth with a throw of 57'03.75".
Minnesota took silver in the event at 58'03.25", while Penn State's Dane Miller placed third at 57'04.25". All eight of the top finishers in the shot put surpassed the NCAA Regional qualifying mark.
Indiana and Purdue needed a jump-off to decide the pole vault late in the day as Hoosier sophomores Blayne Burkholder and Jeffrey Coover and Boilermaker senior John Porter were deadlocked at 16'10.75".
Coover finished third in the competition after missing his first regulation jump at 16'10.75", leaving the tiebreaker to Burkholder and Porter. Burkholder then cleared 16'06.75" to take the gold medal.
Penn State's Allen Pettner set the first new Big Ten championships record in any event since 2003, throwing for a distance of 239'09" in the javelin to win the gold medal. Pettner broke the previous record of 238'02", which was set in 2003.
Pettner's teammate Tanner Evak took second in the event with a throw of 229'01", while Brian Williams of Purdue came in third at 211'04".
Big Ten competitors will next head to NCAA Regionals, which will take place on four different sites from May 25-26. Stay tuned to bigten.org for more information on Big Ten outdoor track and field.