Michigan wins second straight Big Ten Championship
Feb. 26, 2006
MADISON, Wis. - Michigan's hunt for a second consecutive title came down to the wire in 2006 Big Ten Women's Indoor Track & Field Championships at Wisconsin's Camp Randall Memorial Center before the Wolverines tallied 126.67 points for the conference championship. The title marked a Big Ten record eighth overall title for the school.
The Wolverines were in contention among the team standings from the start of the two-day championship meet, but they did not take full control of the lead until claiming all three medal spots in the second-to-last event, the 5,000-meter run. Minnesota led the way heading into the second day of competition, but didn't fill enough spots on the podium to keep up with Michigan and Illinois. The Illini repeated as runner-up in the team standing with 112 points, led by Yvonne Mensah's three individual titles.
Furthering the deja vu, Minnesota counted 104.83 points for second year in third place followed by Penn State with 85 points in fourth. The host Wisconsin improved from eighth a year ago to fifth with 71 points. Rounding out the standings were Ohio state with 61, Iowa with 57.5, Purdue with 49, Indiana with 19 and Michigan State with 16.
The day started in record-breaking fashion with the weight throw competition. All-American Jennifer Leatherman, the event's reigning champion, crushed the Big Ten Championsips and Camp Randall records with the best throw in conference history, measuring 22.82 meters. While Leatherman already owned an automatic qualifying toss of 21.95 meters, her championship-winning throw improved her to the second-ranked weight throw athlete in the country. Ohio State's Keturah Lofton also made one of the best throws in the country with a 21.16-meter toss. Her performance automatically qualifies her for the NCAA meet and ranks among the nation's top 10. Purdue's Astin Steward came in third with a provisional qualifying mark of 19.66 meters.
In the one-mile run, Michigan's Nicole Edwards brought home the Wolverines' first title of the day with a solid performance. She finished first at 4:44.10 to qualify provisionally for the NCAA meet. Crossing the line next was last year's runner-up in the event, Illinois' Cassie Hunt. Minnesota's Emily Brown surged past Iowa's Meghan Armstrong in the final straight-away to take third with a time of 4:46.17. Armstrong finished at 4:46.23 for fourth.
More records fell in the 400-meter dash. Iowa's Kineke Alexander cruised to new Big Ten, conference championships and Camp Randall records with an automatic qualifying time of 52.31. Penn State's Shana Cox finished next at 53.41 for second, and Illinois' Camile Robinson clocked in third with a time of 55.29.
After claiming the long jump title on Saturday, Mensah continued her title run with the 60-meter dash. She raced to a 7.38-finish for gold. After finishing third in the event in 2005, Mensah set a track record and earned a provisional qualification to nationals. Wisconsin's Shuntia Lucas headed off Minnesota's Kadian Douglas for runner-up honors by .02 seconds. Lucas timed a 7.45 finish followed by Douglas at 7.47. Illinois' team-trophy effort strengthened in the even with another scoring finish by seventh-place Tiara Armstrong (7.57). Illinois and Ohio State both also had two finalists compete in the 60 meter event.
With a title-winning warm up in the 60-meter dash, Mensah took a much different route for her third medal. She sailed to a 12.82-meter triple jump finish for her third title of the championships. Her teammate Nina Henson went the distance for second with a jump of 12.66 meters. Both Illini qualified provisionally for the NCAA meet, as well. They were joined on the podium by another Illinois athlete, Kristina Jones, to complete a sweep of their own. Jones finished third with a jump of 12.54 mmeters.
In the high jump, No. 1 ranked Jessie Stringer lived up to her billing in an exciting field final that came down to the final jumps. Stringer won with a mark of 1.82 meters, out-jumping Minnesota's Liz Roehrig by .04 meters. Roehrig, who won the penathlon competition Saturday, finished second with a jump of 1.78 meters. She shared the second-place spot with Michigan's Jennifer Williams and Stephanie Linz.
Minnesota gained momentum in the team standings with a title-winning Gopher in the 800-meter run. Heather Dorniden finished first at 2:08.66, qualifying provisionally for the NCAAs. Michigan's Geena Gall crossed the line next at 2:09.76, followed by Penn State's Briene Simmons at 2:10.35.
The 60-meter hurdles title belonged to Illinois and LaNeisha Waller, who set a Camp Randall record with a time of 8.28. Michigan's Tiffany Ofili was right on her heels, clocking in at 8.30 for the silver medal finish, and Purdue's Leah Kincaid finished less than a split second off Ofili's pace to finish third with a time of 8.31.
With the end of the meet approaching, the pressure to put themselves in a position to repeat was bearing down on the Wolverines. Senior Katie Erdman was exactly who they wanted in the blocks with the meet on the line. Erdman responded with a 600-meter dash title run, finishing with a time of 1:30.27. Illinois' Robinson clocked in next at 1:30.98 followed by teammate Pam Wolf at 1:31.69 for third. Michigan also scored big on freshman Amber Hay's fourth-place finish at 1:32.60.
Alexander claimed her second title of the day in the 200-meter dash. She continued her title streak with a new Camp Randall record in the event, finishing with a time of 23.69. Cox finished in the silver-medal spot for the second straight year with a time of 23.92 followed by Lucas at 24.11 for third.
The Wolverines cleaned up in the long run, owning the top three places in the 5,000-meter race. Alyson Kohlmeier clocked in first at 15:58.61. The sophomore Wolverine also eclipsed the track record of 15:59.35 previously owned by Indiana's Michelle Dekkers since 1990. Erin Webster, the 3,000-meter champion, crossed the line next at 16:04.90, followed by Rebecca Walter at 16:08.57. Eleven runners earned provisional qualification to the NCAA meet in the event.
The medal sweep propelled the Wolverines to first place in the standings, giving them more than a 26-point advantage over second-place Illinois heading into the final event of the championships.
In the 4x400-meter relay, Cox led Penn State to another record finish, setting a new Camp Randal-best with a first-place finish of 3:41.98. The Penn State quartet of Cox, Briene Simmons, Aleesha Barber and Dominique Blake beat the field by almost two seconds. Iowa crossed the line next with a time of 3:43.64 and defending champion Illinois came in third at 3:44.62. Michigan's relay crew finished next-to-last with a time of 3:49.02, but the Wolverines' lead in the team standings enough for the championship trophy.