Minnesota Leads Women's Track & Field Championships at End of Day One
Feb. 24, 2007
CHAMPAIGN (Ill.)--The University of Minnesota jumped out to the lead at the 2007 Big Ten Women's Indoor Track & Field Championships, hosted by the University of Illinois.
The Gophers will lead the field heading into Sunday's session with 59 points after six scored events. The Wolverines are in second with 36 followed by the Purdue with 35 for third. Wisconsin turned in 24 points for fourth while Illinois tallied 21 for fifth. Rounding out the team standings are Penn State (20), Indiana (18), Iowa (13), and Michigan State (8)
The pentathlon kicked started the day's events with a déjà vu-like finish with the top three finishes mirroring that of the 2006 championships. Minnesota's junior Liz Roehrig picked up her third straight pentathlon title with a 4,177-4,158 advantage over Michigan's Bettie Wade. The Badger's Melissa Talbot nabbed the third spot after charging out to a 60-meter hurdles win in the first event (8.49). However, it was Roehrig that picked up the next two events with wins in the high jump (5'09.2") and shot put (42'11.75") to secure Minnesota's first title of the championships. Roehrig has improved each year, bettering last year's mark by 194 points.
Not unlike last year, Talbot took the early lead in the pentathlon's first event, running in 8.49 and improving on last year's 8.56 run. Michigan's Wade clocked in second at 8.63 followed by Penn State's Gayle Hunter at 8.71 for third. Roehrig turned in a sixth-place time of 8.84.
In the pentathlon high jump, Roehrig climbed up the leader board with a first-place jump of 1.76 meters. She edged out Penn State's Amber Strouse and Michigan State's Anna Coster by .03 meters, while Illinois freshman Alecia Beckford-Stewart put the Illini on the board with a fourth-place jump of 1.70 meters.
Roehrig continued her quest for a third straight title by claiming the pentathlon shot put title with a winning toss of 13.10 meters. Talbot's performance fell right behind hers in a 12.89-meter throw for second. Wade scored in third place with a 12.14-meter toss.
Wade tried to narrow the gap in the pentathlon long jump, where she led the pack with a 5.94-meter jump. Hunter followed in second with a 5.88-meter jump, and Roehrig jumped 5.78 meters for third.
Roehrig's seventh-place finish in the final pentathlon event, the 800-meter run, was enough to seal her fate. The Gopher snuck by Wade once again to claim a close, but commanding 19 point lead over the sophomore.
In the pole vault competition, Purdue's Mallory Peck and Indiana's Vera Neuenswander sailed to a 4.11-meter jump in setting a new conference record. Neuenswander's and Peck's jump erased former Boilermaker Ebbie Metzinger's 2002 jump of 4.00 meters. While both athletes recorded similar jumps, Peck had less misses to capture the title. Minnesota dominated the rest of the scoring finalists by taking the next two spots with another finishing sixth. The Gophers' Andrea Smith and Ashley Nord both leaped to 3.91 meters for third and fourth place respectfully, followed by teammate Alicia Rue.
The Gophers continued to add to their point total when they recorded first and second place finishes in the shot put. Holding the second farthest throw in conference, Liz Alabi worked her way to the top of the standings with an improved 16.12 meter throw to guarantee a first place finish. Alabi, who was last year's bronze medalist, was followed by teammate Liz Podominick who notched a 16.11 meter throw. Purdue's Sheena James rounded out the top three with a throw of 15.70 meters.
Freshman Bridget Franek held the 10th fastest one-mile run in the conference coming into the weekend, but with a 4:46.33 preliminary run, leads the pack with the top seed in Sunday's finals. She is followed by Minnesota senior Emily Brown, who placed second in 4:48.08. The reigning title holder Nicole Edwards placed third in 4:49.16. Wisconsin's Sarah Hurley sits on the No. 4 seed after overcoming Michigan Arianne Field in the final turn to break up a possible Wolverine one-two punch in the first heat. Minnesota teammate Heather Dorniden will join Brown in the finals after racing to a fifth place finish.
Defending conference and national champion Kinke Alexander ran to a 54.56 first place finish in the 400-meter dash trials followed by Indiana senior Stacey Clausing (55.07) and Penn State's Briene Simmons (55.12). Teammate Shana Cox holds the No. 4 seed with a time of 55.35. Alexander and Cox hold the second and third fastest times in the nation, guaranteeing an exciting Sunday showdown.
Illinois' Yvonne Mensah claimed the top spot in the long jump finals with a 6.30-meter jump. Mensah's jump dusted off an 18 year old Armory record of 6.25 meters, set by Illini Leticia Beverly. Finishing second, Tiffany Ofili marked a 6.17-meter jump while Boilermaker Leah Kincaid moved up a spot on the podium from last year to finish in third with a 6.05 meter jump.
Spurred on by the home crowd Yvonne Mensah blazed to a first place 60-meter trial run, setting her second Armory track record in the process. Mensah's time of 7.31 edged out the 2003 building record set by Indiana's Rachelle Boone by .01. Ohio State's Jenna Harris clocked in at 7.42, narrowly edging out Michigan's Tiffany Ofili who placed third in 7.43. Two more Fighing Illini join Mensah, as Tiara Armstrong and LaNeisha Waller placed fourth and fifth respectfully.
In the 800-meter run, Michigan and Minnesota combine to hog six of the nine seeds. Sophomore Wolverine Geena Gall holds the top seed with a preliminary run of 2:08.04, and is followed by Minnesota's Gabriele Anderson who clocked in at 2:08.81. Lone Boilermaker, Laura Farley placed in the third fastest time of 2:09.63. Along with Anderson, Minnesota is sending three more into the finals including Jamie Cheever, Julie Schwengler and Ayla Mitchell.
Defending title holder in the 60-meter hurdles, Illiniois' Waller stormed to a 8.17 first place trial run to set the pace in heat one. Nittany Lion Aleesha Barber took second in 8.25, followed closely by last year's runner up Wolverine Tiffany Ofili. Three of the top five runners in Sunday's finals came from heat one including No. 4 seed Tiffany Johnson (IOWA) and No. 5 seed Lorian Price (IND).
Michigan's Katie Erdman and Illinois' Carlene Robinson improved on last year's 600-meter run times in today's trials that garnered them a first and second place finish respectfully. Erdman heads into tomorrow's finals with the number one seed with a time of 1:30.08, followed close behind by Robinson in 1:30.75. Minnesota's Dorniden placed third in 1:31.25 and PSU's Simmons clocked in at 1:31.89.
In the 200-meter dash, Penn State's Shana Cox sprinted to a first-place finish of 24.04. Yvonne Mensah will represent the Illini as the No. 2 seed in the final with a time of 24.07, followed by Ohio State's Jenna Harris. Hoosier Favours rounds out the top four spots, coincidently going to all four seniors.
The Wolverines' Erin Webster helped her cause in the 3,000-meter run by claiming first place with a 9:25.49 finish. Webster came into the event as the reigning title holder and with the conference's top time of 9:20.42. That time was already good to punch her a ticket to the NCAA Championships in Sacramento. Iowa's Diane Nukuri clocked in second at 9:32.75. Third place honors went to Pudue's Corrie Whisner (9:34.71) while Wisconsin's Haynes marked a 9:36.54 run for fourth.
While the finish of the distance medley relay was hardly close, Michigan's relay team was running against the clock and themselves as they cruised to a new conference record and first place time of 11:19.68. The Wolverines beat their own record of 11:25.50 set just a year before. Over 20 seconds later, Minnesota crossed the finish line at 11:31.15 followed by Penn State in 11:34.55 for third. Wisconsin was next in 11:34.95 for fourth and Illinois crossed at 11:39.94 for fifth. All five teams were under the Armory track record of 11:43.29 set by Tennessee in 1999.
The second and final day of championships competition begins Sunday with the weight throw competition at 9:30 a.m. Twelve individual champions, the 4x400-meter relay winner and team champion will be crowned during Sunday's session.