Defending Champ Minnesota Leads After Day One At 2007 Big Ten Championships
May 11, 2007
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The 2007 Big Ten Outdoor Track & Field Championships kicked off on the Penn State campus Friday afternoon with a strong early showing from the defending champion Minnesota Gophers, who lead the team competition with 25 points. On a gorgeous spring day in Happy Valley, the women kicked off the afternoon with the four of the seven heptathlon events followed by two field finals and the 10K race.
Penn State's Gayle Hunter took an early narrow lead over Wisconsin's Melissa Talbot in the heptathlon, edging the Badger senior by 0.03 seconds in the 100m hurdles. Hunter finished first with a time of 13.75 for 1015 points, while Talbot tallied 1011 in second. Michigan's Bettie Wade moved into third with 995 points after her 13.88-second performance.
Wade moved into first place in the next heptathlon event - the high jump. Her jump of 1.81m sent her into the leader's spot with 1986 points. Melissa Talbot, who tied as runner-up with Michigan State's Anna Coster at 1.69m, held on to her second-place position in the standings with 1853 points.
The battle continued between Wade and Talbot through the shot put, where the Michigan sophomore narrowly edged her Badger adversary with a 42'1.25" toss. Talbot's farthest throw landed at 42'0.5" to secure second place and 715 more points. Minnesota's Jacenta Spandl secured third in the event by a 38'06" hurl.
In the final heptathlon event of the day, Hunter secured another win in the 200m dash in 24 seconds flat. The performance moved her to third in the overall standings, while Wade and Talbot continued to battle for the top spot. Talbot finished second in the event at 24.12, but sits a narrow 39 points behind Wade, who notched third in the event at 25.14 seconds, at the end of day one.
Indiana's Vera Neuenswander made her first-career conference outdoor championships a memorable one, securing the pole vault crown in record fashion. She cleared a 13'5.25" jump for gold and also set new Big Ten Championships and facility records. Neuenswander's performance erased the previous conference meet standard set by Michigan's Elizabeth Boyle in 2004 by nearly two inches. The Hoosier rookie tried to notch the school record at 13'7.5" but fell just short on all three of her attempts. With her 10 points and the first-ever title for a Hoosier in the event, Neuenswander vaulted the Hoosiers into second place in the team standings.
Minnesota counted some quality team points in the event with three pole vaulters advancing to the finals to earn 17 points for an early team lead. Freshman Alicia Rue earned silver honors after clearing a 13'3.5" vault, followed by teammate Andrea Smith in third with a 13'1.5" jump. Junior Ashley Nord also scored for the Gophers with her sixth-place finish after a 12'5.5" performance.
Purdue's Mallory Peck landed a 12'5.5" jump of her own for fourth after the tiebreaker, while three Illini - Amanda Pintaro, Jacqueline Ziegler and Ashley Whittaker - rounded out the standings at fifth, seventh and eighth respectively.
With the graduation of All-American Jennifer Leatherman of Penn State, the hammer throw and discuss competitions are wide open this year. Ohio State's Veronica Jatsek entered the hammer event as the favorite, and the Buckeye junior filled Leatherman's void with a record-breaking performance. Her toss of 208'02" on her first attempt broke the championships record by nearly eight feet and bettered her previous season-high by 6'04".
Gopher senior Liz Alabi kept Minnesota in first place with a runner-up throw of 199'08". Purdue's Astin Steward claimed bronze with a 192'07" effort on her final attempt to leap frog Iowa's Becca Franklin, who finished fourth with a toss of 190'07". Steward's performance momentarily gave the Boilermakers some working room as they climbed into second place overall with 11 points.
Penn State's Helen Higgins finished fifth, followed by Michigan's Bridgette Maynard and Michigan State's Meagan Halliwil. Rounding out the event final was Wisconsin's Amanda Hoeppner in eighth.
The day's final race moved competition to the track for the 10K run. Indiana Jessica Gall blasted through the last lap and blazed past defending champion Rebecca Walter of Michigan for the gold. The Hoosier senior finished with a time of 34:27.07, marking the first-ever Indiana victory in the event. Walter, who entered the event unseeded, followed for silver at 34:33.09. Iowa's Rachael Marchand and Diane Nukuri came in next, crossing the line for third and fourth respectively. Walter's teammate Erin Webster clocked in at 34:59.28 for fifth. A pair of Wisconsin freshmen in Hanna Grinaker and Claire Maduza crossed the line in sixth and eighth, respectively, while Illinois senior Stephanie Simms rounded out the top eight in seventh.
With Gall's winning performance, the Hoosiers moved up to second in the team standings at the end of day one competition. They sit five points behind leader Minnesota's 25 points. Iowa currently sits in third with 16, edging fourth-place Michigan with 15. Purdue totaled 11 for fifth followed by Ohio State (10), Illinois (9), Wisconsin (5) and Penn State (4). Michigan State rounds out the team standings with two points.
The second day of competition gets underway Saturday morning at 10:15 at the Nittany Lion Outdoor Track with the heptathlon long jump. It will be a full day of action, concluding with the 3,000m steeplechase at 6:30 p.m. ET. Check back to BigTen.org for updates and results.