June 27, 2008
The Penn State women's squad posted its best-ever NCAA finish and the best of any Big Ten team at the 2008 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, June 12-14, in Des Moines, Iowa, taking fourth with 39 team points. The Wolverine women claimed the seventh spot with 29 points, extending their streak to four straight top-10 showings at the NCAA Championships. On the men’s side, Wisconsin grabbed the top conference finish, placing tied-for 21st with a 12-point total.
The Big Ten took home four individual NCAA Championships. Nittany Lion senior Shana Cox revenged her runner-up position from last year’s NCAA meet with a gold medal performance in the 400 meters in a time of 50.97. She then went on to anchor the winning 4x400-meter relay squad of Aleesha Barber, Dominique Blake, Cox and Gayle Hunter in a blistering time of 3:27.69. The Michigan women’s squad garnered the other two first-place finishes with junior Tiffany Ofili defending her 2007 title in the 100-meter hurdles, breaking the tape at 12.84. Geena Gall took the top podium spot in the 800 meters, coursing the two-lap race in 2:03.91.
PSU had many contributors to its 39 team points. Sophomore Bridget Franek received a third-place medal for her efforts in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and Barber claimed fourth in the 100-meter hurdles. Hunter racked up two fifth-place points competing in the long jump and heptathlon. Hunter earned All-America honors in three different events at the NCAA Championships, more than any other Big Ten participant.
The Wolverine women also received help from junior Bettie Wade and senior Nicole Edwards. Wade proved to be one of track and field’s top athletes as she racked up 5,738 points in the heptathlon to place third. Edwards earned a sixth-place finish in the 1,500-meter run in a time of 4:15.00, ending what was one of the best track careers by a Michigan woman.
In all the Big Ten women yielded 14 top-five finishes, doubling last year’s total. Other top conference performers were Illinois’ Angela Bizzarri (2nd - 1,500m.) Minnesota’s Heather Dorniden (5th - 800m.) and Liz Roehrig (2nd - heptathlon), Purdue’s Kara Patterson (5th - Javelin) and Wisconsin’s Katrina Rundhaug (5th - 10,000 m.).
The Big Ten men produced five top-five medals at this year’s Championships, three of them being Wisconsin distance runners. Badger sophomore Jack Bolas claimed the conference’s highest place at third in the 1,500 meters, followed closely by teammate Craig Miller for fourth. The Michigan 4x400-meter relay squad took home fourth to gain All-America status. Fifth-place performers included Ohio State’s Jeff See (1,500 m.) and Wisconsin’s Christian Wagner (10,000 m.).
The USTFCCCA recently honored the 2008 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field All-Americans. The Big Ten women displayed 27 student-athletes on this list, up five from 2007. The men garnered 13 recipients, up four from the previous season.