NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships Preview




June 8, 2010

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The Big Ten Conference will be well represented when the 2010 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships begin on Wednesday, June 9, at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. The four-day meet will be hosted by the University of Oregon, and all 10 conference squads will send student-athletes to compete for national prominence.

Three Big Ten student-athletes won individual gold at last year's championships, with Illinois' Angela Bizzarri the only returning champion. A seventh-place finish by the Michigan women's squad was the highest of any conference team at the 2009 championships.

Heading into this year's event, the Big Ten will field two or more student-athletes in 12 of the men's events. The conference will be well represented in the distance races, where three Big Ten runners will participate in the 800-, 5,000- and 10,000-meter runs. Penn State's Casimir Loxsom and Ryan Foster and Wisconsin's Luke Rucks each take part in the 800; Indiana's Andrew Poore and Ben Hubers and Minnesota's Chris Rombough made the 5,000-meter field; and Michigan's Lex Williams, Penn State's Tyler McCandless and Wisconsin's Mohammed Ahmed race for the 10,000-meter crown. Five conference student-athletes advanced to the 1,500-meter run field, including Michigan State's Josh McAlary, Minnesota's Ben Blankenship, Ohio State's Jeff See and Wisconsin's Jack Bolas and Craig Miller.

The conference will also be strong in the field events, specifically the shot put and high jump. A pair of Penn State throwers, Blake Eaton and Joe Kovacs, rank in the top 10 of the preliminary start list, while four rank in the top 10 of the high jump list. Indiana's Derek Drouin (second), Purdue's Geoffery Davis (seventh), Penn State's Ryan Fritz (ninth) and Minnesota's Matt Fisher (10th) represent one of the conference's strongest events at the national meet.

The Big Ten women's teams will also send two or more student-athletes in 12 of the contested events, including three or more in seven of those competitions. Two conference standouts enter the national meet as the top seed in their respective events, including Michigan State's Emily Macleod in the 5,000-meter run and Penn State's Bridget Franek in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Both events, along with the 1,500-meter run, feature three or more competitors in each discipline.

The conference will send eight different hurdlers to compete in the two specialty events. Illinois' Tamika Robinson, Ohio State's Christina Manning and Letecia Wright and Penn State's Aleesha Barber rank in the top 17 of the 100-meter event. Meanwhile, Illinois' Latoya Griffith joins a trio of Nittany Lion hurdlers, Evonne Britton, Fawn Dorr and Megan Duncan, in the 400-meter hurdles. In the field, four conference student-athletes appear in the pole vault and discus start lists. In the pole vault, Indiana's Kelsie Ahbe, Penn State's Jocelyn Witmer, Purdue's Brianna Neumann and Jenny Soceka appear in the top 24, while Emily and Erin Pendleton of Michigan, Beth Rohl of Michigan State and Nicole Tzanakis of Minnesota earned spots in the discus competition.

Complete recaps following each day of competition will be available at bigten.org, while live results will be available through the NCAA's Championships Central page.