2009 Big Ten Women's Track and Field Championships Preview
Feb. 27, 2009
Indiana University and Harry Gladstein Fieldhouse is set to host the 2009 Big Ten Women’s Indoor Track and Field Championships. Michigan fronts the conference with a USTFCCCA rank of four while No. 7 Penn State and No. 19 Minnesota are the only other Big Ten schools to appear on that list. The Gophers are the two-time defending Big Ten Champions but will face stiff competition from some of the best track and field athletes in the country as the Big Ten owns five of the nation’s top event times/marks.
Illinois hopes to improve upon its sixth-place showing at last year’s meet with help on and off the track. Junior Angela Bizzarri has run some of the best distance times in the conference while teammate Aja Evans owns the nation’s seventh-best shot put mark at 53-11 (16.43m.)
Home team Indiana will certainly look to better its ninth-place 2008 performance with superior veteran leadership. Seniors Molly Beckwith and Tiffany Howard and juniors Vera Neuenswander and Ashley Rhoades all rank within the Big Ten’s top two of their respective events.
Iowa is another squad that will rely heavily on senior leadership in Racheal Marchand and Renee White. Marchand's time of 16:18.23 in the 5,000 meters ranks 12th in the country while White’s triple jump distance of 41-7-75 (12.69m.) sits at No. 2 on the conference’s season-bests list.
2008 runner up Michigan is loaded with talent this year especially on the track. Two-time NCAA outdoor 100m. hurdles champion Tiffany Ofili owns the nation’s best 60-meter hurdle time at 8.01 while last year’s NCAA 800m. outdoor champion Geena Gall holds the country’s best time at 2:03.91 in that event. Look for senior Bettie Wade to compete for a gold medal in the pentathlon as she garners the second-best point-total among all NCAA competitors.
Michigan State will supply a lot of its fire power in the distance events with senior Lisa Senakiewich and junior Emily MacLeod. The duo ranks within the conference’s top 10 in both the one-mile and 3,000m. races.
The Gophers look to three-peat at the Big Ten Indoor Championships and will have plenty of opportunities at individual first-places finishes. Junior Alicia Rue has the cleared the top NCAA height in the pole vault this year at 14-4 (4.37). Heather Dorniden owns the conference’s best 600m. time and the nation’s second-best 800m. time. Also look for Minnesota to be a top contender in the distance-medley relay.
Last year’s 10th-place team Ohio State looks to rack up major points in the sprints with seniors Ayrizanna Favours, Bever-Leigh Holloway and Letecia Wright. The trio rank among the Big Ten’s best in their respective events.
The Nittany Lions will look to garner first-place honors in 2009 after finishing third at last year’s meet. Back on the track for PSU is junior Bridget Franek who owns the nation’s sixth-best time in the 3,000 and 5,000m. Senior Gayle Hunter totaled the highest pentathlon score among all NCAA athletes this year with 4,236. Look for Penn State’s NCAA-leading 4x400m. relay squad to bring home quality points as well.
Purdue has three of the best pole vaulters in the conference in seniors Brianna Neumann and Mallory Peck and sophomore Tara Turnbull. The Boilermakers will also rely on sprinters Ranay Harvey and Ashlee Lengacher.
Last year’s fourth-place squad Wisconsin looks for its first indoor title since 1997 and hopes to take advantage of high talent on the track. Wisconsin’s Gwen Jorgensen has recorded the Big Ten’s second-best time in the 3,000m. and the third best time in the one-mile. In the pentathlon, three Badger athletes rank in the conference’s top five highest scorers.