Feb. 14, 2009
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Indiana posted perhaps its best day of the season to date on day two of the Tyson Invitational. The Hoosiers took three Tyson crowns, an automatic NCAA qualification and two brand new provisional marks. IU also took eight top-three finishes and nine top-five marks. Seniors Jeff Coover and Wendi Robinson and sophomore Cole Hardacre joined freshman Ben Stephen as Tyson Invitational champions. Junior Vera Neuenswander posted the first NCAA automatic mark for the Hoosiers this season.
Coming off of back to back Big Ten Field Athlete of the Week honors, Coover didn't let down at all, taking the Tyson Invitational crown in the championship pole vault section. Coover cleared 5.35m (17-6.5) for a six-inch victory over many of the country's best athletes. Coover's season gets more impressive each week, as the La Jolla, Calif., product posted the fourth-best mark in IU history two weeks ago at the Indiana Relays, took the Meyo Invitational crown last week and adds a Tyson title this week. Coover is solidifying himself as one of the best in IU's illustrious history of vaulters.
Robinson posted her third NCAA provisional mark of the season, winning the 5,000m championship section. Her time of 16:37.55 was four seconds better than her competition and makes her the first Big Ten runner to post a provisional mark in the event. The time is one of the ten best in Division I this season.
Hardacre took the collegiate crown in the 3,000m, finishing less than a half second behind unattached runner Kevin Williams. He shed more than five seconds off of his previous best in the event with a time of 8:13.31.
Neuenswander, the IU record holder in the pole vault, took the Indiana record book to the next level on Saturday. Her clearance of 4.20m (13-9.25) matches the NCAA automatic qualifying standard. The automatic qualification is the first for the Hoosiers this season. The Jefferson City, Mo., native took third-place.
In the distance medley relay, the Hoosier men posted a provisional qualification with the country's eighth-best time this season. Sophomores De'Sean Turner and Ben Hubers and seniors John Gunnell and Evan Bardach posted the Big Ten's best time of the season and the fourth-best time in IU history. Finishing in 9:42.72, the Indiana team was less than a half second behind the winning team from Oklahoma. For Turner, this is his second qualification in as many weekends.
It was a big day for other young Hoosiers as well. Turner and Hubers were joined by four other underclassmen with top-three finishes. Freshman Derek Drouin added three-quarters of an inch to his provisional qualification in the high jump. His clearance of 2.18m (7-1.75) moves him into fourth-place in the IU record books. He is now tied with former IU standout Dennis Adama on the all-time list. He moves into the top-ten nationally with his tie for second among collegiate jumpers.
In the 3,000m championship section, freshman Chelsea Blanchard took third with a three-second improvement on her career best time. She finished in 9:48.14, which was more than a second and a half faster than the fourth-place finisher. Freshman Olu Olamigoke took third in the triple jump with a mark of 15.05m (49-4.5). His mark was less than two inches out of second place.
The Hoosiers return to action on Feb. 28, when the Big Ten Championships begin. The men's championships will take place at Penn State and IU will host the women's championships. For complete coverage of IU track and field, stay tuned to www.IUHoosiers.com.