Bloomington, Ind. - Thirteen Indiana track and field athletes have received either automatic or at-large berths to the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships June 11-14 at Hornet Stadium on the campus of California State University-Sacramento.
Seven members of the women's team are heading west, led by senior All-Americans Rachelle Boone and Danielle Carruthers. Boone, a Norfolk, Va., native, will compete in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay. Boone won the 200m title at last weekend's NCAA Mideast Regional in Columbus, Ohio, as her 22.93 finish in the final set a new Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium record. Boone also finished second in the 100m (11.24) in the final and was a member of the Hoosiers' 4x100m relay team that placed third in Columbus.
Carruthers, one of the NCAA's premier 100m hurdlers, could become a three-time All-American in that event. She owns the nation's third-fastest time ever in that event (12.68 at the 2002 Big Ten Championships). The Paducah, Ky., native is seeded fourth in this year's championship, one of seven men's and women's individual events in which the Hoosiers are ranked among the top seven.
Boone, Carruthers, Rose Richmond and sophomore Ara Towns comprise an Indiana 4x100m relay that is looking to earn All-America honors for the fourth straight season. Should the quartet achieve this feat in Sacramento, it would mark the first time since 1989-92 (Katrin Koch, shot put) that the Hoosiers have earned All-America laurels in the same event for four straight years. Richmond, the 2003 national indoor runner-up in the long jump, will compete in the same event at the outdoor championships, while Towns used a personal-best 11.43 100m to advance to the regional final in Columbus, and her fifth place finish in the May 31 final qualifies her for the national meet.
Junior Audrey Giesler is looking to become Indiana's first All-American in the 3000m steeplechase and just the fourth IU distance runner (1500m, 3000m, 5000m and 10000m) to earn this distinction at the outdoor meet. Two weeks after she set the Big Ten record (10:14.19) in the 3000m steeplechase at Minnesota, Giesler finished fourth in the region at 10:27.54.
Although Lauren Chesnut is in her first season at Indiana, she has qualified for the NCAA triple jump for the second straight season. Chesnut transferred to IU from George Mason, where she met the NCAA qualifying standard in 2002 (13.05). Chesnut is ranked among the top 15 in the nation in her event (13.00m/42-8).
When Indiana senior Ira Kharun threw the javelin 185-11 on May 30, she not only won the regional title and broke the stadium and school records, but she also solidified the top spot in the national javelin rankings. Kharun heads to Sacramento looking to improve upon last year's fourth-place finish.
Kharun is not the only Hoosier javelin thrower traveling to NCAAs, nor is she the only IU athlete ranked best in the nation in her event. Former walk-on Pat Miller used a men's school record javelin throw of 223-4.5 on his final attempt to finish second in the region and qualify for the NCAA meet. Meanwhile, Adam Judge is an odds-on favorite to win the men's hammer throw. Judge's regional championship throw of 221-4 was the best individual effort among all regional championship sites.
After finishing second in the triple jump at the 2002 NCAA outdoor championships (54-8.75) and the 2003 indoor event (55-9), IU sophomore Aarik Wilson hopes to clinch Indiana's first individual outdoor national title since 1993. His best effort this spring (54-9.25) is also the third-best in school outdoor history. Wilson is one of five Indiana track and field athletes slated to compete in multiple events at the regional.
A trio of men's distance runners have also advanced to the NCAA Championships. Sophomore John Jefferson not only finished second in the nation in the indoor mile last March, but he is seeded second in this year's outdoor 1500m (3:41.53). John's twin brother, Sean will also compete in Sacramento in the 5000m. Jefferson became just the seventh runner in Hoosier history to break 14 minutes for 5000m when he ran a 13:58.23 at the prestigious Mt. Sac Relays on April 18. Finally, junior Tom Burns is making his first appearance in the NCAA Championships in the 3000m steeplechase. His time of 8:50.06 at the April 24 Penn Relays is the fourth-best time in school history.
The national meet is not the outdoor season finale for Judge, John Jefferson, Boone, Carruthers, Giesler, Richmond, Chesnut, Kharun and Wilson. This group, along with senior triple jumper Hasaan Reddick, return to California June 19-22 to compete in the USA Track and Field Championships at Stanford.