Men Gear Up for 2005 Season
BLOOMINGTON, Ind.-- The Indiana men's track and field team is again setting its sights high for the 2005 season, determined to be among the Big Ten Conferences' elite and make a strong run at the NCAA Championships. The men placed sixth in the indoor and fourth in the outdoor Big Ten Championships a year ago. The Hoosiers also sent three qualifiers and a relay team to the NCAA indoor Track and Field championships, and five to compete in the outdoor championships.
Head Coach Randy Heisler is a firm believer this year's squad has the potential to be one of best in Indiana history.
"It's time for our men's team to win," said Heisler. "We have the talent and the depth to win the meet at the conference level. Beyond that, if five or six guys have a good meet at nationals, who knows what could happen."
Junior Ryan Ketchum will be a definite force in the shot put and discus. Ketchum placed seventh at the Big Ten Outdoor meet, and qualified for the Mideast Regionals as well.
"Last year, half of the shot put finalists at the conference meet were at the nationals, so that shows you how strong the competition was," said Heisler. "But, three quarters of those guys are gone. Ryan is a kid who throws a PR every time he throws. He also trains really hard. We will expect big things from him this season."
Heisler also pointed to Wil Fleming in the hammer throw, and javelin throwers Jake Wiseman and Jimmy Conrad as definite threats at the conference level in their respective events. Wiseman, also a decathlete, finished third at the conference championships and took his first trip to the NCAA Outdoor Championships where he finished 21st in the decathlon
"While Jake is a really talented athlete, his biggest strength is in the javelin," said Heisler. "He could have a shot at winning the conference title."
Indiana also will have three-to-five freshmen to help in each of the throwing events including Gabe Morran, Chris Klakamp and P aul Fearnow.
"These are all kids that can step in and learn from these upperclassmen," added Heisler.
When looking at the Hoosier jumpers, it is safe to say IU is stacked for the 2005 season. With IU's best triple jumper in history returning, along with experienced returnees and high profile newcomers, the Hoosiers will be solid all around in the long, triple and high jump.
Aarik Wilson has done so much already in his career, but Heisler believes there is room for more in the upcoming season. Wilson, who holds school records in the triple jump for both outdoor (16.67m/55-8.25) and indoor (16.99m/55-3), has a long list of accomplishments under his belt, including three national runner up honors in the triple jump and a third-place finish in the long jump at NCAAs. The six-time All-American is by far one of the best jumpers in the country entering the 2005 season.
"He is such a talented athlete and such a competitor," Heisler said of Wilson. "Whenever you go to the national meet and you PR, that says a lot. Aarik is to the level where there are very few humans who can do what he can do. He keeps getting better. He almost won the nationals in the long jump, which is his second event because he is that competitive. Aarik will be a huge part of the indoor nationals for our team."
Looking specifically at the long jump, Heisler claims the team is stacked and could have four or five men jumping 24-25 feet. Sophomore Kiwan Lawson is coming off a great freshman year in which he stepped in as another top jumper for the Hoosiers. posting the second best mark on the teams for indoor and outdoor. Lawson competed at the NCAA Mideast Regionals and finished eighth at the outdoor conference meet. The Hoosiers also welcome freshmen Kyle Jenkins, the number one triple jumper in the state of Washington and Leslie Majors, an Illinois state champ and also a member of the IU football team, to the 2005 squad.
"Both of these guys coming in have probably never been beat," said Heisler. "With Aarik here, he'll push them and make them competitive and even better athletes, which will really help us out in the long run."
High jumper Britain Jorgenson also returns for the upcoming season.
"He has the potential to score at the conference meets," said Heisler.
In addition to Jorgenson, Heisler says the Hoosiers will also receive aid in the high jump from incoming freshman Tre Kemp.
David Stead and Wiseman will hold down the pole vault event for the Hoosiers. The duo definetly has the talent and experience to score at the conference level.
"David took a lot of people by surprise when he got third at the conference meet this past year," said Heisler. "He's only a sophomore eligibility-wise. He has a lot of room to grow, and we hope to see him at the top of the conference again. "
Heisler is expecting a lot of quickness in the sprint events and will look to 2004 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, David Neville in addition to members of the NCAA regional qualifying 4x100-meter relay team Andre Grimes and Stephanos Ioannou to score a lot of points for the Hoosiers at both the conference and national level.
"With David getting the experience at the Olympic Trials this year and being part of some junior national teams, he will add even more to our team," said Heisler. "He has three years of eligibility in front of him, there is no telling what he will do."
Neville, a three-time All-American, already holds the school record in the 200-meters for indoor, but it will be no surprise to see Neville in contention to break the outdoor school records in the 200- meter and 400-meter. Neville already ranks second in both events, with times of 20.39 and 45.05, respectively. Grimes came around at the end of the outdoor season and started contributing to the team, specifically in the relays.
"He really showed us a lot and we hope he carries that over to this season," Heisler said.
Ioannou is another returning athlete that had a great freshman year and should add even more during his sophomore campaign. He finished fifth at the Big Ten Outdoor meet in the 100-meter hurdles and made the trip to regionals where he competed in both the hurdles and the 4x100-meter relay. There will also be some fresh talent to add to the sprints area as well with Doug Dayhoff, former state champion in the 400-meters, and the 2004 Indiana State Champion in the 110-meter hurdles Anthony Argentino joining the team.
"Between all of these guys, we should have a pretty solid 4x400- meter relay team this year," added Heisler.
Distance is yet another piece of the team that returns a tremendous amount of skill and talent. Between Sean and John Jefferson, Eric Redman and Tom Burns team will have some top-notch distance runners back for the 2005 campaign. Sean Jefferson, the 2004 NCAA Indoor Champion in the mile, his brother John Jefferson and Burns (who both are coming off redshirt seasons) will lead the pack at both the conference and national level for the Hoosiers.
"The distance will be a really strong point for us," said Heisler. "How many schools have their third miler is at 4:06? Having Tom Burns back, who had the fourth best time in the country in the steeplechase will be a huge factor for us."
Indiana will also look to freshman Brian Sullivan, one of the best two-mile athletes in the country, to be a major contributor to the team. Rodney Hollis is back for one more year of eligibility and will provide quickness and a source of leadership in the middle distance events. Hollis finished eighth in the conference during the outdoor season and ran a leg in the 4x400-meter relay team at regionals.
One of the biggest aspects that will make the 2005 team so successful is that the talent is so spread out. With the combination of experienced returnees, a great recruiting class, and remarkable athletes in every event, the Hoosiers have their goals set very high for the upcoming season.
"We have unbelievable talent," said Heisler. "When you look at the number of national champions and national runner-ups Indiana has had in the last 15 years, we cover the whole spectrum. We were never fortunate enough to have them all at the same time. Now we have them all together for the 2005 season."
The men's team will open the 2004 season on Saturday, Jan. 8, as Indiana host the Hoosier Open beginning at 11:30 a.m. inside the Harry Gladstein Fieldhouse.
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