Big Ten Track and Field Ready for NCAA Preliminary Championships
May 25, 2011
Big Ten men's and women's outdoor track and field competes in the 2011 NCAA Division I Preliminary Championship this weekend, scheduled for May 26-28. All 10 conference squads will be represented at the preliminary rounds as six teams travel to Bloomington, Ind., for the East Preliminary and four teams travel to Eugene, Ore., for the West Preliminary.
The preliminary rounds will narrow the field that will advance to the NCAA Championships. At each preliminary site, 48 individuals and 24 relays will compete in each event. The top 12 individuals and relay teams from each preliminary will advance to the NCAA Championships, which will be held June 8-11 in Des Moines, Iowa.
Indiana hosts the East Preliminary with Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State and Purdue also heading to the Robert C. Haugh Track and Field Complex. Fifteen men's athletes and three relay teams in the East Preliminary rank in the top 10 in at least one event heading into the competition. Penn State's Casimir Loxsom boasts the second-best 800-meter time in the nation while three athletes represent the Big Ten in the 3000-meter steeplechase as Indiana's De'Sean Turner (third) and Andrew Poore (fifth) and Ohio State's Cory Leslie enter the week with top-10 times. Six conference athletes decorate the shot put top 10 as Penn State's Joe Kovacs (third) and Blake Eaton (fourth), Michigan's Cody Riffle (sixth), Michigan State's Zach Hill (eighth), Purdue's Bill Hardcastle (ninth) and Ohio State's Matt DeChant (10th) have recorded top-10 throws this season.
Twenty-one Big Ten women's athletes and two conference relay teams heading to the East Preliminary reside in the top 10 of their respective events, including four holding first place entering the week. Ohio State's Christina Manning holds the top time in the 100-meter hurdles and is joined in the top three by teammate Letecia Wright. Indiana's Vera Neuenswander owns the best pole vault mark in the nation, while the Hoosiers' Faith Sherrill has the top shot put effort this season. Penn State's Karlee McQuillen also holds first place, owning the best javelin throw this season.
Oregon plays host to the West Preliminary with Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin traveling to the event. The Big Ten boasts 14 men's athletes and two relay teams in the top 10 of their respective events, including two standouts who hold top-10 marks in multiple events. Illinois' Stanley Azie and Iowa's Justin Austin reside in the top 10 in both the 100-meter dash and 200-meter dash, as Azie holds ninth in both events and Austin ranks 10th and fourth, respectively.
Four women's athletes and a relay team heading west hold top-10 marks, led by Illinois' Stephanie Morgan and Minnesota's Samantha Sonnenberg. Morgan owns the fourth-best 1,500-meter run in the country while Sonnenberg holds the same place in the pole vault.