Hoosiers Claim Two Big Ten Individual Titles in First Day of Big Ten Outdoor Track and Field Championships
May 11, 2007
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Freshman Vera Neuenswander and fifth-year senior Jessica Gall each claimed a Big Ten individual title in the first day of competition of the 2007 Big Ten Outdoor Track and Field Championships, hosted by Penn State in University Park, Pa., on Friday, May 11.
Neuenswander cleared 4.10 meters to set a new meet and Nittany Lion Field record and claim her first-ever Big Ten individual championship. Gall clocked a time of 34:27.07 to take her first-ever Big Ten individual title in the 10K. Both of IU's championships are the first for the Hoosiers in either the pole vault or the 10,000-meter run.
Neuenswander went nose-to-nose with Minnesota's Alicia Rue, matching heights from 3.80-4.05 meters. The pair battled it out at the 4.10-meter mark with each missing their first two attempts. Neuenswander cleared her final attempt, with Rue missing, to take the individual title.
"Under pressure, Vera came through," IU interim women's head track and field coach Judy Wilson said. "Her next thought right after she finished was, `let's see what I can do at nationals.' She is the ultimate competitor. We have a great coaching duo in Jake Wiseman and Dave Volz. They have done a tremendous job with Vera. She is just a competitor, and what a better compliment to come from Coach Volz, who is an Olympian."
Neuenswander, who holds the Indiana school record in the event, is currently ranked seventh in the nation with her vault of 4.12 meters that she recorded on Friday, May 4, at the Billy Hayes Invitational in Bloomington. Her mark, which improved her regional qualifying mark from 3.95 meters (Drake Relays, 4/27), ranks her as the top freshman in the nation.
Gall made a move from third with a lap and a half to go to pass Rebecca Walter from Michigan and Racheal Marchand from Iowa to win the event. She currently ranks 22nd in the nation in the 10K after running a 33.54.65 (Stanford Invitational, 3/31) to provisionally qualify for the NCAA Championship on June 6-9, in Sacramento, Calif.
"I really didn't know what kind of a race it was going to be because it was pretty warm," Wilson said. "When you put Jess on the line, you know you're going to get a racer. She is one of the most coachable people. When she looked over and I said, `Go,' she trusted it enough to just go and go hard. This is something that she has wanted for five years and it is fully deserved. Jess is one of the toughest runners that I have ever worked with."
Sophomore Courtney Freiberger was also in competition for the Hoosiers on Friday afternoon, as she competed in the first four events of the heptathlon. Freiberger ended the day with 2,558 points and currently stands in 10th place. She finished ninth in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 15.37, 10th in the high jump with a mark of 1.45 meters, eighth in the shot put with a toss of 10.03 meters and ninth in the 200-meter dash with a time of 27.53.
Freiberger will be back in competition tomorrow at 10:15 a.m., and will open the heptathlon with the long jump.
"With two Big Ten champs in the first day, we are hoping to capitalize on this for tomorrow," Wilson said. "This has raised the bar for everyone on the team to rise up and come out tomorrow and run hard and make to the finals on Sunday. I have complete faith in every single woman that we brought that they can go out and get the job done."
After the first day of competition, the women are five points out of first place with 20 points, just behind leader Minnesota, who scored 25 points on the day.
On the men's side, sophomore Mark Fruin finished eighth with a time of 31:04.28 to earn a point for the Hoosiers. Indiana is currently in ninth overall, while the Golden Gophers are tied with Iowa in the men's standings with 18 points each.
For complete results and meet recap of the 2007 Big Ten Outdoor Track and Field Championships, visit IUHOOSIERS.com.
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