Big Ten Track and Field Championships Preview
May 14, 2009
Ohio State University and Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium is set to host the 109th running of the Big Ten Men's Outdoor Track and Field Championships. This annual event is longest tenured championships among all conference sports. In 2008, Michigan claimed its first Big Ten title since 1983 as the Wolverines snapped Wisconsin's four-year win streak. This year's field includes several of the top athletes in the country, involving numerous school-record holders.
In the sprints, look for last season's Track Athlete of the Year Adam Harris to pull a double win in the 100- and 200-meter dashes as he owns the Big Ten's top times in both events at 10.32 and 20.90, respectively. Minnesota's Ibrahim Kabia returns as the defending champion at 100 meters and holds the the conference's second fastest time. Iowa's Paul Chaney will challenge Harris in the 200-meter distance, owning a personal-best mark of 21.14. The 400-meter dash field consists of four athletes who have run under 47 flat this season, including Illinois' Gakologelwang Masheto, Ohio State freshman Thomas Murdaugh, Michigan State's Jeremy Orr and Penn State Mike Cadau.
Penn State's Ryan Foster holds the Big Ten's top-time in the 800 meters at 1:48.79. Foster along with four other conference runners own a time that exceeds the winning mark from last year's event.
Wisconsin's Jack Bolas and Craig Miller own the nation's fourth- and fifth-fastest times at 1,500 meters as the duo looks to return the Badger's to the top of the podium.
Minnesota's Hassan Mead set the school record for the Gophers this season in the 5,000 meters in a blistering time of 13:28.45, which would shatter the Big Ten Championships record by nearly 20 seconds. Teammate Chris Rombough holds the conference's second fastest time at 13:54.37. Ohio State's John Ealy owns the Big Ten's best time at 10,000 meters by almost 10 full seconds with 29:08.33.
Badger distance-specialist Ryan Gasper leads the conference field in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time that ranks eighth in the country at 8:43.42.
Both hurdle events are shaping up to be a great competition. In the 110-meter race, top-seeded Andrew Riley of Illinois will battle with defending champion Josh Hembrough of Purdue. And in the 400-meter race No. 1 seed Ray Varner of Iowa will face off against defending champion Dan Harmsen and Carl Buchanon of Michigan as all three fall within one-tenth of a second from one another.
In the jumps, Indiana's Kiwan Lawson and Penn State's Clarence Smith have reigned supreme in the Big Ten this season in the long and triple jump, respectively. Minnesota's Matt Fisher has cleared a league-leading 7-4 (2.25m.) in the high jump which ranks second in the NCAA. With the 10th-best clearance in the nation, Purdue's Eric Sparks fronts the conference at the height of 17-6.5 (5.35m.).
In the throws, Minnesota's Aaron Studt holds the Big Ten's top shot put mark at 61-11.5 (18.88m.) while Michigan State's Lonnie Pugh stands atop the discus leaderboard with a 184-10 (56.33m.) heave. Boilermaker Ben Harpenau owns the top hammer throw result at 210-2 (64.07) while Penn State's Tanner Evak ranks No. 1 in the javelin with a school record throw of 230-9 (70.33m.).
In the decathlon, Gopher R.J. McGinnis has already automatically qualified for the NCAA championships with his league-leading score of 7,626.