Men's Track

    IU Places Second at Big Tens

    Go Hoosiers!
    Go Hoosiers!

    Go Hoosiers!
    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.

    Indiana cut the lead to three in the next race, as Neville won his first ever Big Ten Championship event. He was the victor in the 200-meter dash with a time of 21.46. The Merrillville, Ind., native held off two runners in the final 50-meters for the first-place finish. The win gave IU 10 more team points. Wisconsin placed second and Michigan third in the 200. After the 14th scored event was completed, Wisconsin had tallied 87.50 points to the Hoosiers 84.50. Michigan and Illinois followed with 77 and 74 points, respectively.

    "My goal was to win both the 200 and 400-meter races because I was the No. 1 seed in both events, said Neville. "I was in lane 3 in the 400, which hurt me, but I still managed to come in second."

    Junior Aarik Wilson won his second event of the weekend and his fourth career Big Ten Indoor title, claiming the triple jump in record-breaking form. The Fallon, Ind., native broke a 30-year old Big Ten championship record with a leap of 16.83m (55-02.75). The record was held by Charlton Ehizuelen of Illinois, who jumped 16.81m (54-09.05) in the 1975 championships, which were held in Bloomington. Wilson also won the long jump in the first day of competition.

    "It was kind of bittersweet in that I won two events on the weekend, but we came away in second," said Wilson. "Breaking that record was huge for me. It was a way to show everyone here that we're serious about winning. It also went a long way in proving to myself that it could be done. I was confident that my first jump was good enough to win the title, so after that, I was jumping only for the record."

    Freshman Kyle Jenkins was fifth with a personal-best jump of 15.20m (49-10.50). The PR was more then three-tenths of a meter better then his previous high of 14.84m (48-08.25) at the Tyson Invite. But, just like in yesterday's long jump, Wisconsin answered with three-point scorers, actually outscoring Indiana in the event, 16-14. With the 15th event scored, Wisconsin held a five-point lead with 103.5 total points. The Cream and Crimson was second with 98.5. Michigan and Illinois were a distant third and fourth with 82 and 77 points, respectively.

    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.

    Indiana was sixth in the 4x400-meter relay. The quartet of Hollis, Neville, Dayhoff and junior Andre Grimes posted a time of 3:15.33.

    Sean Jefferson, Neville and Wilson were all named to the Big Ten first-team. Ioannou also earned Big Ten accolades as he was selected to the second-team.

    The Hoosiers did finish ahead of Purdue by nearly 60 points to gain another point in the Crimson and Gold Cup standings. Indiana now lead the series 8-4.

    Next up for IU will be the Last Chance Meets on Saturday, March 5. The event will be held at Notre Dame. Indiana will also prepare for the NCAA Championship, held at Arkansas on March 11-12.

     

     

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