Minnesota Dominating in Capturing its first Women's Indoor Track & Field Championship

Feb. 25, 2007

Championship Central | Results


CHAMPAIGN, (Ill) - The Minnesota Golden Gophers captured their first team crown at the 2007 Big Ten Women's Indoor Track & Field Championships at Illinois' Armory track on Sunday. The Gophers dominated the championships finishing with a 121.5-108.5 advantage over second place team and two-time defending champions, Michigan. In the end, four new conference records were set and nine Armory track records were re-written.

The Wolverines claimed the most individual titles with seven, however Minnesota filled enough spots on the podium to hold onto first place. With three titles to their name the Golden Gophers captured their first indoor track & field championships. Illinois was just two points behind the Wolverines, however the Illini settled for a third place finish with 107 points.

Penn State counted 92 points for fourth followed by Iowa with 75 points in fifth. Rounding out the standings were Wisconsin with 52.5, Ohio State with 47, Indiana with 42, Purdue with 41 and Michigan State with 15.5.

The Gophers started day two right where they left off after claiming the lead in day one of Big Ten Indoor Track & Field competition. Grunts echoed from the Armory walls as the weight throw started Sunday's events. Senior Liz Alabi recorded a massive throw of 21.05 meters to give Minnesota an early point boost. Alabi came into the competition with the second farthest throw in conference, already recording a NCAA provisional qualifying measure. However, Alabi's throw secured the Gopher an automatic bid to the championships. Buckeye Veronica Jatsek placed fifth in the event last year, but earned a silver medal for her performance with a 20.87 meter throw. Both Alabi and Jatsek broke the Armory track record of 20.26 meters set by Jenny Dehlgren of Georgia in 2005. Behind Jatsek was Michigan State senior Erica Bailey, who was the only athlete to score in flight one with a throw of 18.76 meters.  Penn State's Helen Higgins placed fourth with a throw of 18.03 meters.


Michigan answered by capturing its third title of the championships when Nicole Edwards repeated as one-mile champion. Edwards shaved nearly seven seconds off her last year's title run last year to set a new Armory track record of 4:37.92. The previous record was held by Badger Cathy Branta in 1984. Last year's bronze medalist Emily Brown of Minnesota followed Edwards to garner second place in a time of 4:44.14. Among a field of seasoned veterans, Illinois freshman Angela Bizzarri captured third in a time of 4:46.02. Before the weekend, Michigan held the top four times in conference, however the field was much more diverse than expected with Wisconsin's Ann Detmer and Iowa's Meghan Armstrong picking up fourth and fifth places respectfully.


A second defending champion repeated on the day when Kineke Alexander won the 400-meter dash in 52.23 to set a new Big Ten record. Alexander's record improved on her very own record set just the year before at 52.31. In one of the most exciting events of the day that featured the No. 2 (Alexander) and No. 3 (Cox) fastest runners in the nation,

Penn State shot up the standings with second and fourth place finishes to sit at third in the team standings after three events. Ultimately, Cox could not overcome Alexander and settled for a second place finish with a time of 52.68. The top three runners were under the Armory track record of 54.32 set in 2002 by U.C.L.A's Shenna Johnson as Ohio State's Ayrizanna Favours rounded out the three finishers in a time of 53.88. Cox's teammate, Dominque Black followed in 54.98 for fourth.


With the 60-meter dash being the fastest event ran it is no surprise that hundredths of a second separate each competitor. However, in Sunday's finals it was even less than that. Ohio State's Jenna Harris ran to a first place finish in a time of 7.35, to sneak by Mensah (7.36) and claim the Buckeyes first title on the weekend. The battle for third and fourth was even closer as Mensah's teammate, Tiara Armstrong followed and edged out Michigan's Tiffany Ofili by .005 for third. Illinois would pick up 18 points in the event as LaNeisha Waller crossed the line in fifth at 7.53 for the Fighting Illini.


After a stellar day yesterday, in which Mensah recorded two new Armory records, the senior hardly disappointed. The defending triple jump champion and event favorite, Mensah jumped 13.30 meters to claim Illinois' first title of the championships. The leap bettered her season best of 12.91 meters. Gayle Hunter placed second in a jump of 12.60 meters, followed closely by Iowa's Tiffany Johnson in third.


Peaches Roach picked up Iowa's second title with a 1.78 meter leap in the high jump. Roach was followed by Illini Mariesa Greene who claimed second with a 1.74 meter jump. Greene and Roach already have punched their ticket to the NCAA Championships with automatic bids. Wisconsin's Megan Seidl and Minnesota's Caitlin Roemhildt shared third place honors while Buckeye senior and defending champion Stringer jumped to a fourth place finish.


Things continued to stay tight in the 800-meters. After placing second just a year ago Michigan's Geena Gall finally tasted the sweet thrill of victory when she crossed the line first in 2:06.22. Michigan and Minnesota came into the weekend dominating seven of the ten top times in conference and the Gophers proved their worth as they picked up the next three spots on the podium. Gabriele Anderson and Jamie Cheever both crossed the line with an initial time of 2:08.15, but in the end Anderson was .003 faster than her teammate. Julie Schweigler rounded out the Minnesota sweep in fourth with a time of 2:08.22. Both Anderson and Schweigler picked up their first NCAA provisional times of the year.


Michigan captured its fifth title of the championships when Ofili took first in the 60-meter hurdles event. Alhough Ofili had the fastest time in the conference before this weekend, she still had to hold of the defending champion in the Illini's Waller. It was no small feat as Ofili crossed the line at 8.10 with Waller on her heels in a time of 8.15. Waller's time was good enough for an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. Nittany Lion Barber garnered third in a time of 8.24 while Iowa's Tiffany Johnson was fourth in 8.35.


The Wolverines continued to put pressure on Minnesota as Katie Erdman defended her 2006 600-meter dash title in a time of 1:28.38. Erdman's time bettered last year's title run and set a new Armory track record that was previously held by Hilary Bruening. Golden Gopher Heather Dorniden was right behind her, finishing with a time of 1:28.62. Last year's runner-up Carlene Robinson placed third for the Illini with Briene Simmons taking fourth for the Nittany Lions.


Alexander picked up her second title of the championships with a 23.67 win in the 200-meter dash. Mensah claimed second in a time of 23.86 while Ohio State's Favours, who had not been listed on the conference's top 10 list ran to 24.00 flat time to round out the medal stand. Favours was joined by teammate Harris, who placed fifth as both athletes picked up provisional NCAA cuts.


Michigan swept the top three spots in last year's 5,000-meter event, however Webster was the lone Wolverine in the longest race of the championships. Webster ran to a first place finish in a time of 16:19.07 in the endurance race. She was chased by Iowa's Diane Nukuri, who clocked in at 16:24.60 for second, and Badgers A'Havahla Haynes (16:29.92) and Hanna Grinaker (16:31.78).

By the time the final event of the day rolled around Minnesota's depth had provided them with enough of an edge to go into the 4x400 meter relay relaxed.


Iowa's Alexander blazed to a tremendous first leg lead, however it was all but erased by the third leg as Cox shot past the Hawkeyes and the Nittany Lions never looked back. The Penn State quartet of Blake, Simmons, Cox and Barber recorded a new conference record of 3:37.70. Illinois crossed the line next with a time of 3:38.74 and Ohio State came in third at 3:40.00. All three teams recorded times that broke the previous Big Ten record that Indiana set in 2002.