Big Ten Squads Compete at NCAA Preliminary Rounds

May 26, 2010

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The Big Ten will be represented by each institution at this weekend’s NCAA East and West Preliminary Rounds, scheduled for May 27-29. Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State and Purdue travel to Greensboro, N.C., for the East Preliminary Round, while Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin head to Austin, for the West Preliminary Round.

This year, the NCAA changed the format for qualifying for the NCAA Championships. Rather than having four regional sites, two preliminary rounds will narrow the field to the 24 that will advance to the NCAA Championships. At each preliminary site, 48 individuals and 24 relays will compete in each event. The top 12 individuals and relay teams from each preliminary will advance to the NCAA Championships, which will be held June 9-12, in Eugene, Ore.

The East Preliminary, hosted by North Carolina A&T State, will be held at the Irwin Bell Track. Penn State’s Casimir Loxsom is the top qualifier in the 800-meter run, while teammate Ryan Foster is seeded eighth in the event. Four conference standouts rank among the top 10 in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, including Indiana’s De’Sean Turner, who comes in with the second-fastest time in the region. Two Hoosiers rank in the top 10 of the 5,000-meter run prelims with Andrew Poore fifth and Ben Hubers ninth. Michigan’s Lex Williams is seeded second in the 10,000-meter run, while the Ohio State 4x400 relay team is seeded fifth. Indiana’s Derek Drouin and Purdue’s Geoffery Davis rank in the top five of the high jump.

On the women’s side, Penn State’s Shavon Greaves ranks in the top 10 in both the 100- and 200-meter dash on the start lists, while teammate Bridget Franek is the top overall seed in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Indiana’s Sarah Pease is seeded third in the event, while teammate Molly Beckwith is seeded third in the 800-meter run. The Nittany Lions’ 4x400-meter relay team ranks second in the region, while Ohio State is sixth. Ranked second in the shot put is Faith Sherrill of Indiana, while a pair of Wolverine sisters, Erin and Emily Pendleton, rank in the top four of the discus. In the javelin seedings, Ohio State’s Maggie Mullen is third and Penn State’s Karlee McQuillen is fourth.

The West Preliminary, hosted by the University of Texas, will take place at the Mike A. Myers Track and Soccer Stadium. Among the conference standouts entering the meet with a top time include Wisconsin’s Craig Miller and Minnesota’s Ben Blankenship, who both hold top 10-times in the 1,500-meter run. Badger Ryan Gasper is seeded fourth in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Elsewhere, Illinois’ Andrew Riley is third on the 110-meter hurdle start list, while Iowa’s Ray Varner is seeded seventh in the 400 hurdles. The Hawkeye foursome in the 4x400-meter relay is seeded fifth, while the Illinois 4x100-meter relay squad is sixth.

On the women’s side, Minnesota’s Gabriele Anderson holds the region’s fifth-fastest time in the 1,500-meter run, while Iowa’s Betsy Flood is seventh in the event. Defending 5,000-meter champion Angela Bizzarri of Illinois is seeded second in the event this year. In the 100-meter hurdles, Illinois’ Tamika Robinson is seeded fifth, while teammate Latoya Griffith is seeded eighth in the 400-meter hurdles. Teammate Aja Evans enters the meet as the top seed in the women’s shot put.