March 12, 2005
Wilson Leaps to 2nd NCAA Title; IU Men Finish 5th
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark.-- Using momentum from his first-place finish in the long jump on Friday, junior Aarik Wilson capped off the 2005 indoor season with yet another NCAA Indoor title, this time in his signature event, the triple jump, with a mark of 16.92m (55-06.25). Wilson became the first IU athlete ever to claim two individual titles at an NCAA Championship. As a team, the Hoosiers racked up 30 points, which gave them a fifth-place finish overall - its highest finish in 12 years. Arkansas took first with 56 points, followed by Florida (46), Wisconsin (43) and Auburn (37).
Wilson reached his eventual winning mark on his second attempt in the first flight and no other competitor could get within reach the rest of the way. His third jump in the prelims looked like an impressive one that would have blown away the competition even more, but the red flag was pulled and Wilson received a foul.
"It was an ecstatic feeling to win the long jump yesterday, but I feel even better today," said Wilson. "It's taken me three years reach this goal. It feels good to get the weight off my shoulders. Coach Pate is the best at what he does. I wouldn't be here if he hadn't helped me so much over the years."
Wilson's pair of NCAA titles marks the fifth time that an athlete has won both the triple and the long jump at the indoor NCAAs. The last time this feat was accomplished was in 1994 when Erick Walder of Arkansas ran away with both titles.
Director of Track and Field, Randy Heisler said Wilson is a special kid that was very deserving of his awards.
"Aarik did a tremendous job," said Heisler. "He kept his head in it the whole time and never got down. He came to win and he got the job done."
As expected, the men's mile final was one of the most anticipated events of the championships. In the end, defending national champion, junior Sean Jefferson was edged out by conference foe, Nick Willis of Michigan (4:00.69) and took home runner-up honors with a time of 4:01.56. Jefferson kicked into high gear in the final lap, moving from a steady fifth place into second, but Willis protected his position and went ahead of the pack with about 300m to go, leaving no room for Jefferson to catch up.
His brother John ran a solid race for Indiana as well, finishing seventh overall, which allowed him to earn All-American honors for the third time in his track career. Jefferson kept up with the pack through majority of the race and pushed hard at the end to cross the finish line at 4:03.96. Together, the duo's finishes' earned Indiana 10 points.
The final Hoosier to compete was junior Stephen Haas who finished 12th overall in the 3,000m with a time of 8:11.52. The North Mecklinburg, N.C., product got off to a good start and managed to stay in third when the pack began to separate. Right around the 2k mark, the competitors stepped up and passed Haas but he kept charging towards the finish line to earn his second All-American honor during the meet (he earned his first honor yesterday in the 5,000m).
"Overall, we had a really good meet," said Heisler. "The Jeffersons ran really well and I was happy to see Stephen (Haas) earn All-American. David (Neville) did a really good job too, he went up against some tough competition. We are excited about our finish, and even more excited that we have everyone back for next year."