— Purdue Track & Field (@PurdueTrackXC) February 24, 2018
GENEVA, Ohio – The women finished runner-up for the third-straight year at the Big Ten Indoor Championships, while the men took 10th at the two-day meet. Senior Jahneya Mitchell ran two races and finished with two school records, two meet records, two all-time conference records, two facility records, two gold medals, a No. 2 time in the country and one world-leading performance. The women finished with 80 points, while the men had 32.
“We competed well. I couldn’t be more proud of the team,” said head coach Lonnie Greene. “The performance of the Big Ten Championships was Jahneya Mitchell in the 600, then the 4x4 running the No. 2 time in the country. To finish second with two of our big time athletes sitting out (two-time high jump champion Janae’ Moffitt and two-event Big Ten finalist Sekayi Bracey) is a big accomplishment. For Carmiesha Cox to win the 60 touched my heart. She has worked so hard and meant so much to the program. Savannah Roberson pulled a ‘Devynne Charlton’ and scored in three events. I’m excited to add the four (Moffitt, Bracey, Charlton and Savannah Carson) back outside to see what the future holds for women’s track and field program.”
For the second day in a row, Mitchell’s performance in the 600-meter run left the crowd in awe. She was in the second of two heats of the final and knew she had to beat 1:28.55, which is what teammate Samara Miller ran to win the first heat. Mitchell had no problem. She led the entire race until the final curve, when Minnesota’s Titania Markland made a pass. Mitchell stayed with her until the final five meters where she edged ahead to earn the gold medal with a time of 1:26.65. That is the world-leading time in the event this year and broke the school record she set yesterday, the meet record, conference record and facility record. She edged the previous world leader, Chrishuna Williams of the United States, by 0.34 of a second.
“I trusted my fitness, my coaches and God himself,” Mitchell said. “I had goals to win the 600 title since I was the first one out of finals last year. I knew I had one more year to do it. So, just like the 600 meter at NJCAA Indoor Nationals (in 2016 where I won the national title), I had to go and get it. I was hungry and my fork was up. I was very emotional after winning. I felt fearless, happy, excitement and relief all at the same time.”
This weekend, Mitchell lowered the school record by 3.59 seconds.
“Mitchell’s performance speaks for itself,” Greene said. “It’s outstanding. She dedicated the race to her dad who she lost last year. She was teary-eyed at the line. That’s the kid I saw when I recruited her. Her performance today proved it. No one in the world this year has done what she did. I’m excited to see her outdoors to see how high she can go. It’s going to be fun to coach.”
The Boilermakers proved to be the fastest in the Big Ten, as has been the trend since Greene took over in 2013. Cox won the first individual gold medal of her career, indoors or out, by claiming the 60-meter dash crown with a time of 7.36 seconds. She is the second woman in school history to win the 60m dash at Big Tens, joining fellow Bahamian Charlton, who won last year.
Minutes later, redshirt freshman Waseem Williams won the men’s 60-meter dash title. Despite a slow start out of the blocks, Williams used his top-end speed to catch and pass the field at the line. Williams finished with a time of 6.63 seconds, which tied the school record, meet record and facility record all set by former Boilermaker Big Ten champion Raheem Mostert in 2014.
Since Greene took over ahead of the 2012-13 season, the Boilermakers have won four women’s and three men’s short sprint golds (60-meter dash indoors, 100-meter dash outdoors). In the same span, the Boilermakers have also added three silver medals and three 4x100-meter relay titles.
“I tip my hat to my assistants Angela and Norbert Elliott for what they’ve done with the short sprints,” Greene said. “The performances for those two to win the 60s was great. Waseem is right on the edge of getting in the NCAA Championships. We’ll have to wait and see. They’ve done an outstanding job. Go forward, we just need to add more depth and develop our speed a little bit, but our future is great. We love our speed and power and we want to keep taking advantage of that. On the women’s side, they helped us make a run at the team title.”
In the quest for the Boilermakers to three-peat the women’s 4x400-meter relay, Purdue’s team comprised a first-time lineup. The team of Miller, Mitchell, Symone Black and Brionna Thomas had no trouble claiming the title. Miller ran the leadoff and put the Boilermakers in third, but close behind the front two teams. Mitchell continued her stellar weekend by moving Purdue into the lead. Black extended the lead, before Thomas brought it home with an all-time conference best time of 3:30.40. The time, which broke Purdue’s meet and facility record time by exactly 1.50 seconds from last year, is No. 2 in the NCAA this season. The finish bumped the Boilermakers from a third-place tie entering the event to sole second.
Three other medals were earned by Boilermakers throughout the day. Thomas earned a silver medal in the 400m dash after breaking her own school record with a time of 52.27 seconds. That time ranks sixth in the NCAA this year. Sophomore Chloe Abbott earned the bronze in the race with a time of 52.76 seconds. On the men’s side, senior Justin Veteto took home the bronze medal with a personal-record time of 7.79 seconds. That time is tied for fifth in school history and ranks 18th in the country this year.
Elsewhere, Savannah Roberson scored in three events Saturday. She earned five points with a fourth-place finish in the 60m hurdles after crossing the line in 8.33 seconds. In the 60m dash, Roberson earned three points with a sixth-place finish time of 7.51 seconds. She added three more in the 200m dash with a sixth-place finish time of 23.66 seconds.
Abbott also scored in the 200-meter dash. She ran a personal-record time of 23.59 seconds to take fourth and earn five points. Abbott’s time ranks fourth in school history. Her busy day, along with her points in the 200- and 400-meter dashes, also including her singing the national anthem before action began.
— Glen Mason (@BTNGlenMason) February 24, 2018
Miller finished fourth and scored in the 600-meter dash with a personal-record time of 1:28.55. That ranks No. 2 in school history, behind only Mitchell’s historic performances from the weekend. Junior Sarah Loesch took fifth in the weight throw with a best toss of 20.43m (67-0.50).
Senior Eric Blackman took fourth in the men’s high jump after clearing 2.16m (7-1.00). The finish is his best at indoor Big Tens. His clearance was the same as the second and third-place finishers. Blackman took fourth based on misses. Sophomore Jaret Carpenter earned his highest Big Ten finish with a fifth-place finish time of 14:12.67 in the 5,000-meter run. Last year, he took eighth in the event.
The women’s senior class wraps up its Big Ten Indoor Championships career with three consecutive runner-up finishes, after a third-place team finish in 2015 for an average finish place of 2.25. That is the best four-year span in program history. Purdue is the only team over the last four years to finish third or better at each indoor conference championship. For their indoor career, the women’s senior class won 13 total Big Ten gold medals and were part of six different current indoor school records.
“Words can’t describe what this senior class means to our staff,” Greene said. “Those young women came here when there was nothing. They came on a word and a promise that we would be very competitive. They were willing to put in the work and compete. I’m so grateful to them and to the Lord for allowing it to happen. We’ve won the last three 4x4s and it would have been all four if Symone Black didn’t get bumped out on her final turn. What this class has done is set a standard of excellence that now is norm at Purdue. We are running as well as any team in the country and they have set a very high bar for this program.”
The Boilermakers now wait their NCAA Indoor Championships fate, which will be announced next week. Abbott, Thomas, Loesch and the women’s 4x400-meter relay are currently inline to make the meet. Williams is on the bubble on the men’s side as he is currently tied for the 16th spot.