Hoosiers Begin 2009 Season With Indiana Open
Jan. 8, 2009
The Indiana Open is the first of four consecutive home meets to open the 2009 indoor season for the Hoosiers. The meet will be hosted at Gladstein Fielhouse on Jan. 10, 2009, with the first event scheduled for competition at 11 a.m. ET.
The meet will include 13 colleges and universities as well as five club teams. Also competing in Gladstein Fielhouse this weekend will be Beijing Olympian Mary Wineberg, who will run in the 60m and 400m dashes.
Ron Helmer enters his second season as the Indiana Director and Head Coach of Men's and Women's Track and Field and Cross Country after being named to the position on May 25, 2007.
In his first season at the helm of the Hoosiers, Helmer guided the men's and women's track and field teams to improvements during the indoor and outdoor seasons. The indoor portion of the year was highlighted by a Big Ten individual championship for Audrey Smoot in the 600-meter run and a Big Ten runner-up honor from Kyle Jenkins in the triple jump. The indoor season culminated in a trio of Hoosiers representing the women's team at the NCAA Indoor Championships in Wendi Robinson in the 5,000-meters, Molly Beckwith in the 800-meters and Stephanie Chin in the pole vault.
Former West Virginia head women's track and field coach Jeff Huntoon enters his second year as the associate head coach for the Indiana track and field program. Huntoon works with IU's men's and women's sprints, hurdles and jumps. Huntoon, the 2003 NCAA Mid-Atlantic Region Coach of the Year, came to Bloomington after 18 years with the Mountaineers, which included a top-20 national finish during the 2005 season. He served as the assistant head men's and women's coach for 10 years prior to being promoted to the head men's and women's coach in 1999.
THE SPRINTERS AND HURDLERS
"I definitely believe that Devin can compete for a conference championship," said associate head coach Jeff Huntoon. "He has gotten through a year of understanding what training is at a consistent high level and the rigors of anywhere between 14 and 16 meets in a season. He has gotten a bit of confidence back and is a person who we are going to rely on to be the cornerstone of that event not only this year, but also in years to come.
"For Wil Glover this will be his last full season indoors and outdoors. He has outdoors left in 2010. Wil made huge strides last year and he's another that has a renewed confidence in his abilities overall as a sprinter. I fully expect him to be a person who is a mainstay on all of the relays but in the right situation is another one who could break through. His goal is to get his name on the NCAA list this year qualifying for the regional and nationals, and he is another one to challenge for a conference championship."
With a large crop of newcomers in the sprints and hurdles, this portion of the team is very young. In the sprints, freshmen Jordan Burns, Steven Keglar, Nico Perrino, and Chris Vaughn are all new to the team. Vaughn is the sprinter most likely to find early success as a Hoosier.
"In the group of newcomers, Chris Vaughn is obviously the most accomplished, having won multiple state championships in the state of Tennessee," said director and head coach Ron Helmer. "He should come in and contribute in our 4x100m relay as well as in the 200 and 400 meters. The others have all shown some things so far that indicate to us that they've got a good shot at finding a way to help this team down the road."
The most decorated Hoosier returning for 2009 action is without a doubt Kiwan Lawson. Lawson's 2008 season saw him earn his first career All-America honor and take home his third Big Ten Championship. Also returning is high jumper Jared Nuxoll, who narrowly missed qualifying for NCAA competition in both the indoor and outdoor seasons in 2008.
"It is a great, great, great and pleasant surpise to have Kiwan Lawson back on the roster again," Huntoon said. "He suffered through two really hard years here with the injuries that he had. He is a guy who rose to another level with his training last year. There was never a question about his talent. To eclipse two barriers at the same time (eight meters and 26 feet). Those are national caliber marks, which is why he ended up an All-American. It was a very proud moment for him to have that honor, and deservedly so. He did everything we asked of him last year and wanted to do more. I fully expect to see the same this year.
"Jared Nuxoll has training partners for the first time in his career as a jumper. So far in the fall, I've already seen a huge difference in him. Jared was a good trainer last year, but he was just never pushed on a daily basis, and so having three training partners this year will help immensely on his overall fitness and with developing a swagger. He needs that to go and compete at a high level and bring home the results he is capable of. There is no reason why he can't be an NCAA regional qualifier and stand a good shot at trying to get out of the regional."
Four newcomers will make their marks in the jumps. Olu Olamigoke, Rex Parker and Cedric Hudson look to make an impact in the long and triple jumps, while Derek Drouin looks to build on his bronze medal performance in the high jump at the 2008 Junior Commonwealth Games in Pune, India.
"With Derek in the high jump and Olu, Rex and Cedric in the long and triple jumps, all of a sudden we've got four very good young jumpers," Helmer said. "They should do well for us."
In the distance events, Indiana boasts a youth movement. Brennon Plotner and Tim McLeod are the only distance runners on the roster that are upperclassmen. The duo will be looked to for leadership along with regional qualifiers Andy Weatherford and Ben Hubers and Big Ten medalist De'Sean Turner.
"All of our distance guys are training well," Helmer said. "The problem is we don't have numbers on the top end. Brennon Plotner and Tim McLeod are going to do a great job as leaders, and they have bought into what we are doing. For the most part, we are very young. You've got Ben Hubers and Andy Weatherford who were regional qualifiers as freshmen. You've got De'Sean Turner, who in indoor last year was third at the Big Tens at 800 meters."
A crop of thirteen distance runners hold freshman eligibility in at least one of the two seasons. Redshirt freshmen Andrew Poore and Danny Stockberger could be the two fresh faces to watch out for in 2009.
"Andrew Poore redshirted last year and is having a good fall in cross country for us," said Helmer. "Then there is Danny Stockberger who has had trouble getting healthy, but he is getting close now. We've got three to five true freshmen that I think are all going to be outstanding distance runners. We've just got to keep training and see which ones of them we want to put a red jersey on instead of a redshirt. That remains to be seen because we can't predict how fast people will develop when they are training at a high level. I hope they do, and I like what I see, but we'll just have to wait and see because we are so young."
"I think the goal this year was to come back and feel like we belong," Jones said. "I think now they're completely sold on the fact that we are point-scorers and quiet possibly Big Ten Championship contenders. They went about that through their summer workouts, and the way they've been going after it in the fall. They have all been pushing it pretty hard. Each one of them has a goal of competing very high in the conference, not just being there but being a point contributor, and that is exciting."
"Our freshmen throwers are big guys," Helmer said. "Patrick Onye in the hammer and Daniel Novia in probably a couple of events are big guys that are working really hard. Ben Stephen redshirted all last year. He has had a great year and half now of training, and he is very talented. It is exciting looking forward. We'll have our growing pains like everyone else, but they're going to do some very good things."
Riding an All-American season, Jeff Coover will look to move his success indoors after redshirting during the indoor slate in 2008. Blayne Burkholder also returns after a very strong 2007 hoping to recover from injuries that plagued him in 2008.
"The plan with Blayne and Jeff is that they both will compete in their fifth year, so we will have one of them jump during indoor and the other jump during outdoor," said assistant coach Jake Wiseman. "Those guys are doing really well. Blayne has fought through some back injuries, and it has been tough, but I know he is excited to get back. Jeff recovered from a broken leg in the summertime. The thing with Jeff is that he is always in good shape. If he had been out of shape when he was injured, he might be behind, but that was not the case. He is in good form. With those guys, we have two loaded guns, and that is nice to have."
Sophomore transfer Robert Smallman comes to Indiana from Wabash with a winning attitude and a lot of ability. Looking to follow in the footsteps of Coover and Burkholder, Smallman should be a promising young vaulter for IU in 2008.
"We were just plain lucky to get Robert," Wiseman said. "He is a very athletic young man, and he cleared sixteen feet as a freshmen, and then made a decision to come here. He knew of Blayne and knew about the program and wanted to be here. He has come in and worked really hard. What is great about him is he has a chip on his shoulder. He wants to be good. It is that way everyday. It has been very exciting to have him here. He comes in every day wanting to know what he can do to get better. I'm excited to see what he can do this year."
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