IU Places Second at Big Tens
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- The Indiana men's track and field team gave it all they got, but that was not enough as the Hoosiers quest for its 16th Big Ten Championship came to an end on Sunday at Lambert Fieldhouse. IU totaled 105.5 points finishing second to Wisconsin, who won its fifth straight championship with 144.50 total points. Illinois (96), Michigan (88) and Minnesota (80) round out the top five.
Indiana's second-place finish was it's highest since the Hoosiers won the Big Tens in 1992. The 105.5 points were also the most Indiana totaled since the 1991 championships (104).
It was an eventful day for the capacity crowd at Lambert. With 13 final events scheduled for the day, everyone knew the Big Ten Championship would come down to the last few events.
The final events started with the mile, which came down to a photo finish. There was a lot of jockeying for position to start the race, but midway through the event, Sean and John Jefferson, along with Nick Willis of Michigan and Wisconsin's Josh Spiker were clearly the contenders in the race. Willis had the lead coming down the stretch, but in what might have been the closet mile in Big Ten history, Sean Jefferson was neck-and-neck with Willis as they approached the finish line. Only a camera could pick the winner as Sean finished with a time of 4:26.70, edging out Willis by a tenth of a second, as he finished with a 4:26.71. John Jefferson was third at 4:27.88. It was the second time Sean Jefferson won the Big Ten crown. He also captured the event at the 2004 Outdoor Championships. The mile gave IU 16 points in the final standings, bringing the Cream and Crimson within 20 points (42.40) of the Badgers (62.50).
"I was really happy. It was a good feeling to beat (Nick) Willis, who made the Olympic trials," said Jefferson." That was my goal. This was my first time beating him in a competition. It wasn't about the time today, it was just about winning."
Indiana would get within 10 points of Wisconsin in the next event, the 400-meter dash. Sophomore David Neville was second in the race with a 47.69. Freshman Doug Dayhoff was seventh in the event posting a 48.50. IU gained 10 points in the event, as Wisconsin failed to get a qualifier in the finals. After the 400, IU had 52.50 points to Wisconsin's 62.50.
The Hoosiers would get themselves even closer in the 60-meter dash. Freshman Marcus Thigpen placed third with a time of 6.82. His third-place effort earned IU six more points. With Wisconsin's Demi Omole not completing the race, Indiana was within four points of the Badgers, 62.50-58.50, with nine scoring events left.
The 800-meter dash was up next. Senior Rodney Hollis recorded a fifth-place finish with a time of 1:52.75, giving the Hoosiers four more team points. Wisconsin, though, took third garnering six points. Michigan's Nathan Brown was second, giving the Wolverines eight points. By the end of the 800, Wisconsin led the championships with 68.50 points. Indiana was second at 62.50, and U-M was third with 61 total points.
If the theme of the day was about giving yourself a shot, then Indiana followed the script well. Sophomore Stephanos Ioannou was beaten by a nose in the 60-meter hurdles. Ioannou took second in the event, clocked at 7.90. Ricky Pickney of Purdue finished with a 7.89. Senior David Lewis was eighth in the event with a time of 8.07. The two IU finishers gave IU nine more points, and suddenly Wisconsin's lead had been trimmed to just two points. The Badgers had a total of 73.50, while IU was at 71.50. Michigan stayed within striking distance with 67 points.
Indiana would actually take the lead after the 12th scored event of the championships, the weight throw. Senior Wil Fleming sixth-place showing was good enough to give IU the lead. His fourth attempt in the event was a throw of 19.11m (62-08.50). The finish gave Indiana three points and that, combined with Wisconsin's being shutout in the event, put Indiana in the lead with 74.50 points. Wisconsin was right behind with 73.50, and Michigan, who was also blanked in the weight throw, stayed in third with 67 points.
The lead was short-lived, as Indiana did not have a final qualifier in the 600-meter dash. The Badgers placed third in the event, while Illinois posted four point-scorers. After the event, Wisconsin was back out in front with 79.50 points. IU was second with 74.50, while the Fighting Illini jumped to third with 73 points. Michigan was still in the thick of the championships with 72 total points.
The 5000m officially ended IU's bid for its 16th Big Ten Championship. The race started with two Hoosiers in the race, but none finished the event. Wisconsin placed first, second, fifth and eighth in the race, totaling 23 points. The Badgers clinched the Big Ten Title at that point with 126.50 points. Indiana was second at 98.5 points. Only two events were left, the heptathlon and the 4x400-meter relay.
In the heptathlon, senior Jake Wiseman placed fifth with a score of 5,243. He tied for first in the pole vault, clearing 4.85m (15-11.00). He was fifth in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.62 and 13th in the 1000m, where he clocked a personal-best by 20 seconds with a 3:01.46.
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