NCAA Track and Field Championships Preview
June 9, 2009
The 2009 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships are set to begin on Wednesday, June 10 on the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville, Ark. John McDonnell Field will be the site of this year’s event that welcomes nearly 1,100 student athletes, including 92 from the Big Ten; 52 women and 40 men. Last year, the Penn State women stole the conference spotlight, taking home fourth-place team honors due in large part to two first-place performances. In 2009, Big Ten squads look to beat the nation’s best as the women rank 14 competitors within the top five of their respective events and the men own 12 top-10 nationally-ranked student-athletes.
The strongest area for Big Ten participants appears to be in the distance and mid-distance events. The women’s 800-meter run fields three of the top 11 runners in No. 2 Geena Gall of Michigan, No. 3 Molly Beckwith of Indiana and No. 11 Heather Dorniden of Minnesota. Gall won the event last year and looks to do so again in 2009. Expect some fireworks in the 3,000-meter steeplechase as No. 2 Nicole Bush of Michigan State and No. 3 Bridget Franek of Penn State will be chasing down Colorado’s Jennifer Barringer who owns a top time of 9:26.20, just one of her three NCAA records. Illinois’ Angela Bizzarri looks to bring home gold in the 5,000 meters as the junior holds the country’s top seed by nearly five seconds. On the men’s side, keep an eye on the 1,500 meters as Wisconsin juniors Jack Bolas and Craig Miller will battle for the top-podium spot as the duo owns the No. 4 and No. 5 seed times, respectively. Minnesota’s Hassan Mead sits No. 2 in the 5,000-meter run as the sophomore recently earned Big Ten Track Athlete of Year and of the Championships.
Big Ten field event athletes look to make their mark at the NCAA meet, starting with Purdue’s Kara Patterson. The senior has owned the No. 1 spot all season long and is joined in the top 10 by Penn State sophomores Kim Hanslovan and Karlee McQullien. Big Ten pole vault record holder Alicia Rue of Minnesota ranks third entering the NCAA meet with Indiana’s Vera Neuenswander closely behind in seventh. Keep your attention on the shot ring also as Illinois’ Aja Evans and Indiana’s Tiffany Howard sit within the top 10 and look to bring home some hardware. Michigan sophomore Emily Pendleton owns the No. 7 seed in the discus as she won the Big Ten meet by seven feet. For the men, high jump is perhaps their deepest event, fielding five competitors with Minnesota’s Matt Fisher leading the way at No. 4. Gopher Aaron Studt looks to the top spot in the shot put as her earned national runner up at the indoor meet. Penn State’s triple jump veteran Clarence Smith sits tenth in his event and hopes to jump a personal-best in his final collegiate competition.
Michigan’s Tiffany Ofili leads the Big Ten sprinters and hurdlers as she ranks No. 1 in the 100-meter hurdles, having won the event in 2007 and 2008. In the 400 hurdles race, Penn State’s Fawn Dorr and Illinois’ Deserea Brown sit No. 5 and No. 6, respectively. Freshman Andrew Riley holds the No. 8 seed in the 110-meter hurdles as he serves as the lone Illinois underclassmen to qualify for NCAAs. Michigan’s Adam Harris will attempt to pull off a double victory in the 100 and 200-meter dashes. His seed time of :10.08 in the 100 meters ranks fifth overall.
In the heptathlon, the Big Ten enters three competitors all within the top six. Leading the charge is No. 2 Liz Roehrig of Minnesota followed by No. 3 Bettie Wade of Michigan and No. 6 Gayle Hunter of Penn State. Keep an eye on Minnesota’s R.J. McGinnis in the decathlon as he holds the sixth-best score.
For more information on the 2009 NCAA Track and Field Championships please click here.