Johnson, Archibald Finish Second in Respective Events;IU Women Place Seventh Overall at Big Ten Championships
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. In the final day of the 2004 Big Ten Outdoor Track and Field Championships, there was plenty of excitement on Indianas end, as a total of nine Hoosiers finished in the top three. Five men and a relay team helped the Hoosier men finish fourth overall with a total of 92 points, behind Ohio State (105 points), Minnesota (157 points and first-place finisher Wisconsin (165 points).
Three Indiana women top-three finishers put IU seventh overall with 63.5 points. While all of these individuals turned in stellar performances, one Hoosier in particular stood out among the others. Sophomore sprinter David Neville had an incredible showing for the Hoosiers, as he nabbed first-place in both the 200 and 400 meter dashes.
In the 400-meter dash, Nevilles first race of the afternoon, he knew he had his work cut out for him with Mitch Potter of Minnesota in the race as well. Potter had previously beaten Neville in the 2004 Indoor Championships, and Neville was on the lookout for revenge, and revenge is just what the speedster got.
Neville looked strong and confident from start to finish and clocked in an extremely impressive time of 45.05, which broke the Rankin Track record. His previous personal best time of 46.18 had him at fifth on the all-time list, but with todays mark Neville moved into second on the list, behind Sunder Nix who ran a 44.67 back in 1982.
I always try to get out fast, said Neville. I knew I had to really step it up when Potter came up on me. I had to use all the energy I had. That was definitely one of the biggest highlights of my career. I was very thankful that I was able to do it. I have been training and staying really focused over the past few months.
While the 400m dash was stashed away under his belt, Neville was not done yet. Just an hour later, the Merrillville, Ind., native geared up for the 200 meters in which he would again prove he is one of the best sprinters in the conference.
Apparently, one Big Ten Title was not enough, as Neville reeled in yet another one, this time in the 200-meter with an very quick time of 20.39. Once again, Neville moved up in the record books with and now stands in at second on IUs all-time list behind Albert Robinson who set the school record of 20.07 in 1984. Neville also broke yet another Rankin Track record that was previously set by Larry Burton of Purdue back in 1972.
Perhaps one of the most suspenseful and intense races of the afternoon was the mens 1500-meters, in which Jefferson became the first Hoosier of the meet to grab first-place honors.
The first two laps of the 1500m went out rather slow and there wasnt much excitement among the pack. However, things would drastically change with about 300 meters left to go, when Jefferson really began to give everyone in the stands a scare. Lagging behind, in eighth or ninth place, Jefferson paced himself and made a move into fourth place. From then on, Jefferson gave it all he had. With ten meters left, Jefferson crept up on the three people ahead of him, but even so, it still appeared as if Jefferson would finish runner-up. Soon after, he got a burst of energy to put him over the finish line by a hair and allow him to capture his first Big Ten Outdoor title. The finish could not have been any closer as Jefferson clocked in a time of 4:01.86 and right on his heels was Josh Spiker of Wisconsin who finished with a time of 4:01.87.
My plan was to get them in the last 150-200 meters, not the first 400 to go, said Jefferson. I knew they would move in big at 400, so I kind of let them go. I was going to try and move up slowly and then get them at the end, because they would be hurting because I knew they would probably be hurting at the end. I wanted to really push strong and try to get them there and that is what ended up happening.
While Hoosier fans watching the race felt their hearts begin to drop around the 200-meter mark, Jefferson had a plan of his own and only showed small signs of nervousness.
I only got a little nervous with 400 meters to go, when I was in the back, said Jefferson. Everyone moved and I was probably in eighth or ninth place, but I knew I had one of the best kicks out of everyone there. I also knew Spiker and Rob (Myer) (Ohio State) were really good finishers too. I was confident I could get everyone else and was a little nervous about those two, but it ended up working out. I didnt even think I was going to win until 10 meters left when they really started dying out.
Junior Aarik Wilson rebounded from a tough second-place finish yesterday in the long jump to come back and defend his title in the triple jump with a leap of 16.59 (54-05.25). Wilson struggled a little in the beginning, scratching four of his six jumps, but in the end, came out on top and did his best when it counted. Despite his final mark, Wilson felt he had two other jumps that may have broken the Big Ten Record of 16.81m (55-02.00).
My second jump and fifth, I fouled but they felt really good, said Wilson. I was still able to win on my last jump luckily. I really wanted to make up for yesterday. Today was a great day to jump. We had a pretty nice little head wind which kind of made it tough a little bit but overall it felt good.
The pressure was on when Wilson fouled on the first two jumps and had to pull something out on his third to make the finals.
I told Coach Pate I was going to touch the board, said Wilson. I just backed up to where I knew I would be two or three feet behind the board so then I knew if I jumped well enough and got one in, I would make it into the finals. My only jump in the trials that was fair, I was probably about three feet behind. All I pretty much thought about the whole time was to keep my chest up and make sure I could finish the jump at the end. I really wasnt worried about what place I would be in going into the finals.
Also earning a top-three finishes was the mens 4x100 meter relay team and pole vaulter David Stead. The relay team of Kiwan Lawson, Stephanos Ioannou, Andre Grimes and Courtney Roby had solid performances from the first three legs but in the end it was Roby who stepped up again, serving as the anchor and helped the Hoosiers finish strong with a regional qualifying time of 40.61. putting them third overall. Stead earned a personal best regional qualifying mark of 5.00m (16-04.75) to capture the gold medal in his event.
Among the IU women top three finishers was Christina Archibald, who placed second in the high jump with a personal best clearance of 1.78m (5-10.00), Courtney Johnson who took home second-place in the 100 meter hurdles with a time of 13.54, and Jessica Gall who captured third place in the 5k with a regionally qualifying time of 16:56.34. Gall, who also finished fourth in the 10k on Friday night looked strong throughout the duration of the race. Archibalds mark makes her eligible to compete in the NCAA Regionals.
The Wisconsin Badgers captured first-place honors on the mens side with 165 points, followed by Minnesota (157 points), Ohio State (105 points,), Indiana (92 points), Illinois (74 points), Purdue (62.5 points), Penn State (54.5 points), Michigan (41 points), Michigan State (34 points) and Iowa (31 points). In the womens competition, Michigan took home first place with 148 points, next up was Penn State (126.5 points), Illinois (90 points), Ohio State (86 points), Michigan State (75 points), Purdue (64.5 points), Indiana (63.5 points), Minnesota (63 points), Wisconsin (60.5 points) and Iowa (42 points).
The Hoosiers will take a week off from competition and return to action May 28-29 when they head south to Baton Rouge, La., to take part in the NCAA Mideast Regionals.