2007 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships Preview
June 5, 2007
Eighty-two student athletes from all 10 Big Ten track and field schools will represent the conference, June 6-9, at the 2007 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at the Alex G. Spanos Sports Complex in Sacramento, Calif. The event will be hosted by Sacramento State University and the Sacramento Sports Commission for the fourth time in the last five years.
Michigan boasts the most competing athletes of any conference school with 13, sending five men and eight women to the national championships. The Wolverine women tied for first at the Big Ten Championships while the men took third. The Michigan women are led by their strong group of tracksters with five athletes seeded in the top four in their respective events, including senior Katie Erdman who owns the top spot in the 800 meters. Combined, Michigan has seven entries with top-10 seeds, which is the fourth-highest total in the competition. The Wolverine women are ranked No. 6 in the Trackwire Top 25 while the men are tied for 25th.
Men's Big Ten Champion Wisconsin will send seven athletes to the national stage, including defending 5,000 meter champion Chris Solinsky. Big Ten Athlete of the Year and of the Championships Demi Omole is seeded fifth in the 100 meters. UW finished eighth at last year's outdoor championship and won the 2007 indoor competition. The Badgers are 15th in the Trackwire Top 25. The Wisconsin women are looking for their first top-10 finish since 1997, and will send five athletes to Sacramento.
After tying with Michigan for the Big Ten women's title, Illinois boasts six athletes in five different events at the NCAAs. Senior Yvonne Mensah won three events at the conference meet, including the triple jump, where she is seeded 27th at nationals. Three Illini men will also make the trip, including Lesiba Masheto, the Big Ten Champion in the 400 meters.
Iowa boasts four men and seven women making the trip to California. Big Ten 10,000 meter champion Micah VanDenend leads the Hawkeye men with an eight seed in the 5,000 meters, while Peaches Roach has the highest seed on the women's team at eighth in the high jump.
Tied for 17th in the Trackwire Top 25, the Penn State women finished in a close third place at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships and will send eight athletes to NCAA competition. Big Ten Freshman of the Year Bridget Franek is seeded sixth in the 3,000-meter steeplechase while junior Shana Cox is second in the 400 meters. Cox is also part of the fifth-seeded 4x400 relay team. Three members of the men's team will also make the trip, including Allen Pettner, seeded third in the javelin. Pettner set a new Big Ten Championships record in the event on May 13.
Sending 10 athletes to NCAAs, six women and four men will represent Minnesota at nationals. Liz Alabi and Liz Podominick are both dual-entries for the Gophers as both will compete in the shot put while Alabi is seeded 17th in the hammer and Podominick is 27th in the discus. Big Ten men's Field Athlete of the Year and of the Championships Derek Gearman is entered in the high jump (14th), long jump (12th) and triple jump (20th) for the Minnesota men.
Seven student-athletes from Purdue will make the trek to Sacramento, including Keith Hopkins and Rickey Pinkney, seeded sixth and 16th, respectively, in the 110-meter hurdles. Astin Steward leads the Boilermaker women, seeded 10th in the discus and 13th in the hammer. The Purdue women have at least one entry in each of the four throwing events.
Rounding out the Big Ten contingent at the NCAAs, Indiana will send Blayne Burkholder in the men's pole vault and three members of its women's team, including conference champions Jessica Gall (10,000 meters) and Vera Neuenswander (pole vault). Michigan State will also send four total athletes, including two entries in the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase. Veronica Jatsek will represent Ohio State in the women's hammer throw, seeded ninth.