June 3, 2005
A total of 91 Big Ten student-athletes are gearing up to compete at the 2005 NCAA Men's & Women's Outdoor Track & Field Championships, which are set to take place June 8-11 at the Hornet Stadium in the Alex G. Spanos Sports Complex in Sacramento, Calif. Sacramento State and the Sacramento Sports Commission will serve as co-hosts of the event.
All 10 Conference men's teams and a total of 49 entries will be represented at the meet. Wisconsin's Simon Bairu enters the four-day event with the best 10,000-meter time in the country, holding nearly a three-second advantage over his closest competitor at 28:04.75. Indiana senior and Big Ten Athlete of the Year Aarik Wilson, is ranked second in the long jump, a title he won at the 2005 NCAA Indoor Championships, and third in the triple jump. A two-time NCAA runner-up in the triple jump, Wilson also claimed bronze last year in the long jump.
On the women's side, each of the 10 Conference squads and a total of 46 participants will be represented. Illinois' Cassie Hunt earned the highest seed of any Big Ten female student-athlete, as she will enter the 3,000-meter steeplechase with the nation's third-best time of 10:07.29. Penn State's Gayle Hunter and Jen Leatherman will each compete in three events -- the most of any Big Ten student-athlete at the NCAA meet. Hunter is ranked 23rd in the long jump and 24th in the heptathlon, and will run a leg with the 4x400 meter relay team, which is ranked 18th. Leatherman enters the NCAA Championships ranked sixth in the hammer throw, 19th in the shot put and 29th in the discus.
Penn State recorded the second-highest finish among Conference women's squads in NCAA Regional competition. The Nittany Lions finished fifth in the East Regional, while Michigan placed third in the Mideast. Illinois also garnered a seventh place finish in the Mideast. Recording top 10 finishes on the men's side was Wisconsin (4th), Indiana (6th), Michigan (7th), and Illinois (10th), all of which were at the Mideast Regional.