Feb. 22, 2013
GENEVA, Ohio - Dani Bunch won the silver medal in the women's shot put while Coy Blair took bronze in the same event on the men's side for the Boilermakers on day one of the Big Ten Championships. The men sit in eighth place with 12.8333 points while the women are in eighth place with 10 points.
"Overall it went today," head coach Lonnie Greene said. "Our whole objective today was to trying to get back to tomorrow's championships. I thought we did exactly that with the people who had the ability to do that. We missed in a few areas, but the DMR ran one of the fastest times in school history for the men and the women were outstanding as well. We have scoring options tomorrow. Hats off to Coy Blair who medaled as a freshman and all of our scorers today. Now, we have to do what we have to do tomorrow. We have to execute accordingly and if we do that, I think we can walk out of here feeling good about what the future holds for us."
Bunch got the scoring started for the Purdue women with her performance in the shot put. The Purdue junior opened with a throw of 16.18m (53-01.00) which held up as the best in the competition until the third round of throws in the final heat. There, Kyla Buckley of Indiana tossed 16.40m (53-09.75) to take the lead. Buckley won the previous three Big Ten Championships in the shot put coming into the event. Bunch was in second place heading into the finals. She was unable to improve until her final throw where she took the lead with a distance of 16.55m (54-03.75). With only one throw left in the entire competition, Buckley stepped up and threw 16.90m (55-05.50), the farthest throw in the Big Ten this season, to take the gold medal. Bunch picked up the silver medal for the second straight year and earned eight points for the Purdue women.
The men's shot put was immediately after the women. Blair and Chukwuebuka Enekwechi led the way for the Boilermakers as both freshmen qualified for the finals. Blair was in third place heading into the final round with a distance of 18.51m (60-08.75). Enekwechi was fifth after the first three throws with a distance of 18.17m (59-07.50). Blair was unable to improve his mark, though he did match it with his final throw, and held his position to earn the bronze medal and six points for the men. Enekwechi also did not throw farther in the finals and finished in sixth to pick up three team points.
Kelly McCurdy had a huge day in the women's 3,000-meter run. McCurdy had a personal best in the event of 9:33.37 which she ran last season. On Friday, though, she turned it up and shattered her previous best. McCurdy turned in an eighth place time of 9:30.96. That mark moved her from fifth in program history to fourth as she passed Corrie Whisner's time of 9:31.62 from 2007. The eighth place finish also earned a point for the women's team.
The men's and women's distance medley relay teams came to compete on Friday. The women were first to run and Blair Doney, Taylor Morrison, Vanessa McLeod, and Katie Hoevet made up the Purdue squad. Doney had the Boilermakers in ninth after her leg and Morrison helped the Boilermakers move up to eighth. McLeod made up huge ground on the field time-wise and positioned Purdue in seventh. From there, Hoevet was able to outkick Wisconsin's Rachel McNally to give Purdue the eighth place finish and a point with a time of 11:33.42. That time is 14.16 seconds better than what the Boilermakers ran a year ago at the conference meet.
The men also picked up a point in the event with an eighth place finish. Tyler Wynn, Nicholas Parks, Kevin Griffith, and Dan Porter ran a time of 9:46.86. That time broke the previous SPIRE Institute record by four and a half seconds despite the fact that the men finished eighth. The men's time is also nearly 14 seconds better than the time that Purdue ran a year ago despite the fact that the 2012 team also finished eighth. The men's time this season would have been good for fourth a year ago.
The men's pole vaulters had a strong day for Purdue as well. Byron Ferrell and Mitch Erickson both scored for the Boilermakers. Each cleared 5.12m (16-09.50). Based on the tiebreakers, Ferrell finished tied for sixth while Erickson tied for eighth.
The Boilermakers turned in a number of other outstanding performances as well. Ciana Tabb ran a .09 second PR in the 60m hurdles with a time of 8.43 seconds. That moved her from fourth in program history to third as she passed Krissy Liphardt who ran a time of 8.47 in 2001. Her time also qualified her for Saturday's finals as she picked up the first at-large bid. Brandon Winters also had a 60m hurdles PR. Winters ran a time of 7.87 seconds which won his heat and earned him an automatic bid to the finals, the second straight year he achieved the feat. Winters' time is .03 second outside the school's top five.
Vanessa McLeod ran the third-fastest time in Boilermaker lore in the 800m run. The Purdue freshman ran a time of 2:08.23 to finish second in her eat. The second place finish earned her an automatic bid to Saturday's finals. McLeod's time was faster than every woman in Purdue history other than Brooke Woodruff. The other time is the school-record she set earlier this year. Aarin Jones ran a .64 second PR in the 400m dash. Jones, another freshman, qualified for the finals by gaining an at-large bid in the event. The time is also the fifth-fastest in Purdue history as she passed Ericka King's 1999 time of 55.51. Jones is the first to crack the top five since 2001. She is the first Boilermaker woman to qualify for the 400m finals in at least seven years, as far back as the Big Ten's online archives go.
Andrew Kendrick qualified for the men's 400m finals after coach Greene won a protest. Kendrick ran a solid race and finished in 47.77 seconds. That was good for 11th overall, though only eight typically qualify for the finals in the event. The protest was filed because a Minnesota runner in Kendrick's heat had been disqualified for obstruction. It was ruled that the obstruction directly slowed Kendrick down and didn't give him a fair race. A series of protests were won, as the Minnesota runner's disqualification was overturned, but it was still decided that Kendrick was obstructed. Therefore, the 400m dash will have two heats of the finals, both with five individuals.
Matthew McClintock ran the second-fastest time in Purdue history in the 3,000-meter run. The Boilermaker freshman finished 11th overall with a time of 8:07.06. That time is just 0.67 second behind Donnie Fellows' school-record which he set in 2002.
"I was really pleased with the number of top performances we had today," said Greene. "On top of our scorers with Mitch, Byron, Chuk, Coy and the DMR for the men and Dani, Kelly, and the women's DMR, we ran several of the fastest times in Purdue history. Matt McClintock ran well and was fractions of a second from the school record, Ciana Tabb is in the finals with the third-fastest hurdles time in history. We are starting to compete the way we need to in order to get us to where we want to go. To have kids like Aarin Jones and Andrew Kendrick make the finals in to 400 as well is outstanding because they give Purdue representation in an event they have had in a while."
Live results will be available for Saturday at PurdueSports.com. Fans may also follow along with the action on the Game Day Central page on PurdueSports.com. The page features national and Big Ten standings, live results links, a live and interactive blog with details about the action, and much more. The team is also on Twitter, @PurdueTrackXC, as is the Big Ten Championships official feed, @BigTenChamps.