BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - The Indiana womens track team turned in a very successful season a year ago, one it will look to build on in 2003. As a team, the Hoosiers finished eighth at the NCAA Indoor Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. IU sent four individuals and its 4x100 relay team to the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Baton Rouge, La. The Hoosier women captured five individual Big Ten titles and three relay championships (combined indoor and outdoor) and earned five individual and one relay team All-America honors.
With nearly all of the pieces returning and the development of numerous athletes, a very versatile Indiana team looks poised to contend for two more Big Ten Conference titles (indoor and outdoor) and make its presence felt on the national scene.
With the maturity of a number of our younger athletes, we should have a very formidable team, head womens track and field coach Randy Heisler said. Points at the conference and national levels can be scored in all different areas. I expect that those athletes who were on the very edge of scoring at the conference level to make the transition from participant to competition. This could be a very special season for our team.
Sprints/Hurdles With All-Americans Rachelle Boone and Danielle Carruthers returning, the Hoosiers will be in excellent shape in the sprints and hurdles events. Boone and Carruthers, who are both seniors, represent two of the best female track athletes in school history and are among the nations best. The tandem will look to make history as they add to their already successful careers this season.
Rachelle is one of the best sprinters in the country, Heisler said. She will be expected to simply do her best, and her best is yet to come.
Boone is an eight-time All-American and six-time Big Ten Conference champion and will attempt to add to her collection in 2002. The senior from Norfolk, Va., suffered a leg injury at the conference outdoor meet last season and did not get the chance to defend her the 100m and 200m titles she won in 2001. Boone will definitely be in the hunt once again.
At one point last year Danielle had run the fastest 100h time in the world, said Heisler. She will return to finish out her collegiate career and we all expect tremendous things from her.
Carruthers added three Big Ten titles to her collection last season, placing first in the 60m dash at the conference indoor meet, winning the 100m hurdles at the Big Ten Outdoor Meet and running on IUs 4x100 relay squad that set a school and Big Ten Meet record in the outdoors. The Paducah, Ky., product also earned All-America honors in the 60-meter hurdles (indoors) for her runner-up finish and in the 100-meter hurdles (outdoors).
With Rachelle Boone and Danielle Carruthers returning, one could simply sit back and count on those two to carry the team, Heisler said. Even though those two account for numerous Big Ten titles and All-America honors, the Hoosiers will have a very solid support crew.
Sophomore Charlene Maddox and junior Chioma Ndubisi will compete again in the 200-meter and 400-meter dashes for IU. In the 400m, Ndubisi finished second at the Big Ten Indoor Meet and third at the Outdoor Championships. Maddox placed fourth at the conference indoor meet last season. Sophomore Ara Towns will run the 60m, 100m and 200m events. Towns earned outdoor All-America honors as a member of Indianas 4x100 relay team in 2002.
Karla Marshall, a transfer from the University of Tennessee, will also compete in the 60m, 100m and 200m. In addition, freshmen Jessica Cassell and La Donna Ray should provide depth in the sprint and hurdle events.
Jumps Heisler believes this could be Indianas best year in a long time in the jumps events and that is telling, considering the recent past has been solid. Former Big Ten champions Rose Richmond and Tandra Foster will set the bar. Richmond, a senior, captured the outdoor conference long jump crown last season by setting a meet, track and school record (6.57m). Foster finished third at the Big Ten Indoor Meet in 2002 in the long jump.
Rose had one of those seasons only a handful of individuals will ever experience, Heisler said. Yet, Im sure Rose will be the first one to tell you she could do more. Thats why shes a champion.
Hoosier junior Jennifer Cobbina placed second at the Big Ten Indoor Championships and is back this season. IU will also have the services of another 19-plus jumper/sprinter in Towns and another redshirt freshman and Indiana State Champion in Michelle Smith.
In the pole vault, a trio of sophomores will carry the torch. Emily Tharpe, the IU school record holder will lead the way.
Setting the school record and placing third at the Indoor Big Tens is a pretty good start for a freshman, Heisler said of Tharpe. Emily will only improve and her talents will be on display at the NCAAs.
Sophomores Ellison Tipton and Abby Paul are back as well and should push Tharpe, as will freshman Ashley Stinton.
Sophomore Christina Archibald will be IUs primary high jumper. Archibald, who also plays for the Hoosier volleyball team that made the NCAA Tournament in the fall, finished tied for second at the Big Ten Indoors and could have a breakout year in 2003. Freshman Jean Schaffer, a Bloomington native and Indiana State Champion, will also push Archibald.
Christina had a very successful campaign last year, Heisler said. Placing high in the conference, both indoors and out, she will be counted on to perform even better as a sophomore.
Led by All-American and former Big Ten Champion Irina Kharun, the throws will look to return to the top of the conference standings during the upcoming campaign. Senior Irina Kharun earned All-America honors at the NCAA Outdoor Meet for her fourth-place finish in the javelin last year. The javelin is an outdoor-only event.
After a dissappointing conference meet, Irina returned to NCAAs and produced a personal record, Heisler said. I expect her to finish her career at IU standing on the highest pedastal.
Senior Kelley McKinney has continued to improve throughout her career and will look to move up in both the shot put and the weight throws. The Bloomington, Ind., product was the first alternate for the NCAA indoor meet in 2002.
I look for Kelley to battle for a conference title, Heisler said.
Indiana also has an incoming freshman in Martinsville, Ind., product Andrea Dalla Rosa that should be a factor in the throws events immediately.
In the distance events, Indiana returns a number of young runners who gained valuable experience a season ago and were apart of the Indianas cross country team that finished 14th at the NCAA Championships this past November. The Hoosiers will be led by juniors Allyson Hammond, Becky Obrecht, Audrey Geisler and Heidi Crowley and sophomore Mindy Peterson in 2003.
A number of runners were just at the point of really making their presence felt at the conference level last year, Heisler said. With that taste of success, we return a formidable distance crew and this could be our best overall year for distance runners at Indiana.
Freshmen Jessica Gall, Lindsay Hattendorf and Kelly Siekfer, who all had success in their first cross country season this fall, should also have an impact.
The team kicks off its indoor season in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Jan. 18. Indiana will battle the host Michigan Wolverines, Kent State and Michigan State.
Indiana will also have a chance to battle for the Big Ten Indoor championship on its home turf. IU will host the womens indoor meet on March 1 and 2 in the Harry C. Gladstein Fieldhouse. Some of the nations top female track athletes will display their talents in Bloomington that weekend and the Hoosiers are sure to be in the thick of things.