Men's T&F Season Preview (1-03-03)
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - The Indiana men's track and field squad made significant strides a season ago in getting back to the top in both the Big Ten Conference and on the national level, a trend that should continue in 2003 with nearly the entire team returning.
In 2002, the Hoosiers developed into a solid team and sent seven individuals to the NCAA Championships. As a team, Indiana earned impressive Team Power Rankings of fifth in indoor competition and 10th in outdoor. It's safe to say IU has the athletes in place to make some noise, but the key this season will be finding ways to translate it into NCAA points.
The Hoosiers return an outstanding nucleus with a pair of All-Americans in the long and triple jumps. Big Ten Freshman of the Year Aarik Wilson headlined the group by finishing as the NCAA runner-up and capturing the Big Ten Outdoor triple jump title. Wilson earned a pair of All-America honors in the triple jump during his inaugural season and posted the fourth-best mark on the IU indoor list and the third-best outdoor mark .
"Aarik had a banner freshman year as a two-time All-American," Goss said. "We will expect the same in 2003 as he seeks a place within the international level."
All-Big Ten pick Hassan Reddick enters his senior season with strong credentials. Reddick recorded a top-10 finish and earned All-America honors in the triple jump at the NCAA Indoor meet. He also placed third at the Big Ten Outdoor Meet in 2001. His triple jump mark ranks fifth all-time on both the indoor and outdoor Indiana lists.
"Hasaan was expected to take his jumping to a new level last season and he did just that in earning All-America honors," Goss said. "We now expect a run at the Championships."
Another athlete to watch in the long and triple jumps is junior Chris Rosenthal. Rosenthal has a chance to join Wilson and Reddick as a point scorer at the conference championships.
The Hoosier pole vault unit continues to be a factor not only in the Big Ten but nationally as well. A pair of seniors, Ian Curry and Dino Efthimiou, have eligibility remaining in the outdoor season. Curry picked up a fourth-place finish at Big Tens a season ago. Efthimiou, who recorded a second-place finish at the Big Ten Championships in 2001, currently owns the third-best pole vault mark in school history and was an All-American in 2000 after placing fifth at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
Junior Casey Friske made great improvements and finished eighth at the Big Ten Championships in 2001. Indiana looks for him to put up more points this season. The Hoosiers will also have a trio of freshmen to watch this season in Brent Walters (Cincinnati, Ohio), David Stead (Bluffton, Ind.) and Ryker Jones (Geneva, Ill.).
In the high jump, IU returns sophomore Noah Shelton, a seventh-place finisher at the Big Ten Outdoor Meet last season. Shelton took a redshirt year in 2001 and improved greatly. In his second season of competition, Goss looks for his progression to continue.
Indiana will look to Mike Minton and Ryan Ketchum to carry the torch in the shot put and discus in 2003. A junior, Minton was slowed by injury last season but is now healthy and ready to be a factor during the upcoming campaign.
Ketchum took a redshirt season last year and, after working hard and improving, is poised for collegiate competition. Redshirt freshman Wil Fleming provide depth to the group of throwers.
Indiana record-holder Patrick Miller returns in the javelin throw, an outdoor-only event. Miller posted an NCAA-provisional mark and placed second at Big Tens in 2002. In his senior season, he will look for a conference title.
"Patrick had a banner year in 2001. He entered the 2002 season with even greater expectations, and a school record and provisional qualifying mark became destiny," Goss said. "Now we'll expect an NCAA berth as he progresses toward that next plateau."
The Hoosier distance runners figure to be a strong part of this season's team. In the 800m, 5000m, 10000m and steeplechase, IU has achieved the provsionial mark or qualified for the NCAA meet.
Junior Tom Burns ran his season-best time of 9:04.08 at the Big Ten Outdoor Meet, good for a sixth-place finish. Burns also placed seventh in the event at the 2001 meet.
"Running in the top echelon of the Big Ten his freshman and sophomore years has served Tom well toward becoming and NCAA qualifier," Goss said.
Chris Powers, also a junior, is coming off an excellent indoor season where he qualified for the NCAA meet in the 5000 meters and made a trip to the final. Powers owns the No. 2 time on the IU indoor list for the event and will look to excel both indoors and outdoors in 2003.
Indiana will also look to a pair of brothers, John and Sean Jefferson, to help the team to the next level. John competed in both the indoor and outdoor seasons as a freshman last year and earned All-America honors for his 10th-place finish in the mile at the NCAA Indoor Meet. He finished as the runner-up at the conference outdoor championships in the 1500m. Sean, after redshirting last season, will begin his varsity career and because of his outstanding talent, is expected to become an important link in the program.
Junior Rob DeWitte, a third-generation Hoosier track athlete, will compete in the steeplechase. DeWitte has moved into a position to attain elite status in the Big Ten.
Junior Bart Pharris returns after a breakaway season in 2002. He posted NCAA provisional qualifying times in the 10000m, both indoors and outdoors.
As a freshman in 2002, Eric Redman qualified for the Big Ten 1500m finals. He will be looked to for points this season. Junior Chad Andrews, owner of the fourth-best outdoor 10000m time in school history, also returns. Andrews will attempt to hit a new level of competition this year.
Indiana will look for Contrell Ash to return to his 2001 performance level. The junior from Ft. Wayne, Ind., earned Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors in his first season of competition at IU after sweeping the 100m and 200m titles at the outdoor conference meet. Ash battled injury as a sophomore but will be healthy coming into 2003.
"After an excellent freshman year, Contrell was hampered by an injury that did not allow him to reach the level expected," Goss said. "Now that he is well, he will reach that national level of competition."
Andre Grimes redshirted last season but figures to be an impact performer in the 100m, 200m and the sprint relays. Junior Ryan Sarbinoff turned in a solid 2002 indoor season that saw him lead IU in the 400 meters. Sarbinoff's improvement last season has him set to reach a level beyond being competitive in the conference.
Ryan Huber is also back for Hoosiers. The senior from Wausson, Ohio, has eligibility remaining in the outdoor season, and has the strong potential to be a scoring threat at NCAAs. Huber competed at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the 800m as a sophomore. In 2002, he won the event at the Drake Relays and also finished in fifth-place at the Big Ten Outdoor meet.
The Hoosiers have a pair of impressive hurdlers coming back in senior Matt Harris and junior Micah Harvey. Harris holds the IU indoor record in the indoor 60m hurdles, while Harvey ranks second. Harris' continual development has landed him in a position to be a leader in the Big Ten. Harvey's determination and technique should make him a conference contender and a significant team success.
Another junior, Daniel Martin, finished sixth in the 400m hurdles at the Big Ten Outdoors last season after posting a personal-best mark. In addition to Martin's hurdling abilities, he will see action on Indiana's 4x400 relay squad. The Elkhart, Ind., product should be ready to challenge for a Big Ten title this season. Junior Rodney Harris also returns with his third-best mark on Indiana's 600m indoor list.
Other athletes to watch in the sprint and hurdle events include, sophomore Kyle Turner (110 hurdler), freshman Kevin Kempf, an Indiana high school 300 hurdle champion in 2002.
The Hoosiers also look to be strong in the relay events this season. All four members of last season's 4x100 relay team are back, after posting a season-best time of 40.23. Last season's 4x400 unit ran the sixth-best time in Indiana history.
Indiana will open its indoor season in Ann Arbor, Mich., on Saturday, Jan. 18. The Hoosiers will compete with the Wolverines, fellow Big Ten team Michigan State and Kent State at the meet.
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