March 1, 2014
GENEVA, Ohio - The Boilermakers wrapped up the conference meet with some of the best performances in program and Big Ten Championships history on Saturday. Purdue won two gold medals on the men's side and the women claimed one on the final day. The men finished fifth with 61 points, while the women were fifth with 53.
"I have some mixed emotions about our finish," head coach Lonnie Greene said. "I thought we could have been fourth on both sides. We missed a couple breaks and got a couple breaks. But, the movement for the program, both men and women, was significant. That was what was important. I wanted us to get out of the bottom of the league and get to the upper half, and we did that. We did exactly that. The rest of the league has stopped us and told us how impressed they are at the move in such a short period. But, it comes down to the kids and they believe and are competing like they believe. At the end of the day, I'm pleased, but we just have to keep working to improve."
Raheem Mostert stole the show and proved he is the fastest man in the Big Ten both days of the championships. After tying his personal record in the 60m dash on Friday in the prelims with a time of 6.73 seconds, Mostert took down Timothy Faust of Ohio State, who had the fastest prelim time by 0.01 of a second over Mostert, and the rest of the field on Saturday. Mostert broke the Purdue school record and the SPIRE Institute record in the event with an incredible 6.63 seconds time. He ran away with the final by 0.07 of a second over Faust.
"It all started with my starts," Mostert said after the championships. "I just progressed as time went by. Yesterday, I ran my then-PR. Today, championships, I felt I had to go all out. `Go hard or go home,' that was my motto, so I stuck with it.
"Setting the school record was a big surprise. I have wanted to break that record for so long. I know Shane Crawford held it, and I kept looking at his record every day in practice. I was like, alright. I'm going to beat it someday. I am going to beat that record someday. Today happened to be that day and I then carried the momentum over into the 200m."
One hour and six minutes after winning the 60m, Mostert was back on the track for the 200m. The junior ran a personal-best time of 21.00 seconds, the fastest in the prelim, on Friday to advance to the finals. Mostert turned heads with his performance Saturday. The New Smyrna Beach, Fla., native ran a time of 20.73 seconds which shattered the Big Ten Championships record set by Faust last year, a time of 21.12 seconds. Mostert's time also broke the SPIRE Institute record, but ranks second in Purdue history behind Big Ten all-time record holder Kenneth Baxter, who ran a time of 20.57 seconds in 2004. Faust finished second with a mark of 20.77 seconds, while Ricco Hall of Nebraska finished third with a time of 21.06 seconds.
Mostert is the first Purdue male to win a gold medal at the Big Ten Indoor Championships since Shane Crawford won the 60m dash title in 2010. He is the third Boilermaker to win the Big Ten Championship in the event, including Crawford and Prentice Stovall in 2003. Mostert is Purdue's first Big Ten Champion in the 200m dash since 2008 when Jh'Rome Tuggle won the event. He is the fourth Boilermaker all-time to win the event, and second Purdue football player to win the event. Brian Alford was the first in 1998.
As if the two gold medals weren't enough, Mostert anchored the final leg of the men's 4x400m relay. His 400m time in the relay was roughly 47 seconds. He was named First Team All-Big Ten after the meet, Purdue's first first-teamer since 2010 with Crawford. Mostert will be up for the Big Ten Track Athlete of the Championships, an award voted on by the conference coaches and announced early next week.
"Raheem gave us 20 points and then came back and helped us in the relay," Greene said with a smile on his face. "He is real. He will now go to the national championship in the 60- and 200-meters. He can play at that level. He makes us so much better. Come outdoor season with the talent we get back with Eric Harris and some of the other guys, we could be a 38-second 4x100m relay team. That plays for the national championship. I am speechless. His performance was second to none. That's the way you represent a brand. He represented the Purdue brand in a way that makes us all proud. The thing about Raheem, it couldn't have happened to a better man."
Dani Bunch did what she needed to do to win the Big Ten Championship in the women's weight throw on Saturday, a day after taking the bronze in the shot put. Bunch threw all six throws over 20 meters, including her final five throws farther than any other competitor at the championships. Bunch finished with a mark of 21.90m (71-10.25) and won by four feet, five inches. The win was her third Big Ten Championship in the event, making her the first woman in Big Ten history to win the conference crown three times. Bunch finished the championships with 18 points and will be up for the conference field athlete of the year and conference field athlete of the championships awards. Bunch earned First Team All-Big Ten.
The Boilermakers broke two other school records on the day as well. Matthew McClintock took fourth in the men's 5,000-meter run while breaking his own school record. He finished with a time of 13:53.12 to break his own school record by 3.29 seconds. McClintock is the first Purdue man to score in the indoor 5k this millennium. Jake Waterman just missed scoring in the event, though he did have a solid PR. Waterman was ninth with the fourth-fastest time in program history, 14:07.22. That time is less than half a second outside the No. 3 time in program history.
Aarin Jones was the other Boilermaker to break a school record on Saturday. She finished fifth in the 400m dash with a time of 54.23 seconds. The time was a PR by 0.44 of a second and broke Khadija Conda's previous school record of 54.61 seconds 16 years later, to the day. Jones has scored in the event in back-to-back years, after finishing eighth last season with a time of 56.46 seconds.
Kari Shoolbraid competing in arguably the most difficult double possible. The senior qualified for the 800- and 600-meter finals and had to compete in them 42 minutes apart. First, Shoolbraid ran a seventh-place 800m time of 2:08.54 to earn two points for the Boilermakers. She then came back and finished eighth in the 600m with a time of 1:32.61. BreAnna Smith also scored in the 600m, with a sixth-place time of 1:31.13. It was the first time the women scored in the 600m since 2010 when Rachel Stalzer finished sixth.
The Boilermakers picked up a couple other medals, both bronze, on Saturday. Chukwuebuka Enekwechi threw 22.53m (73-11) in the weight throw to take third. The winning mark was 23.78m (78-00.25) by Michael Lihrman of Wisconsin. Jon Lehman of Minnesota finished second with a mark of 22.68m (74-5). Coy Blair also scored in the weight throw as he picked up a PR. Blair finished seventh with a mark of 20.25m (66-5.25).
The other bronze medal on the day was by sophomore Cierra Brown. The triple jumped took third in her main event with a leap of 12.77m (41-10.75). Tori Franklin of Michigan State won the event with a Big Ten record jump of 13.56m (44-6). Ellie Ewere finished second with a mark of 12.81m (42-0.50).
The Boilermakers also scored points in the women's mile as Katie Hoevet finished fifth with a time of 4:45.02. It was the first time the women scored in the mile since 2006. Tyler Askew scored in the 60m dash with a sixth-place finish. Askew ran a time of 6.81 seconds, which is just 0.01 of a second off his PR. Devynne Charlton scored in a pair of events. She took eighth in the 60m dash with a time of 7.52 seconds. That time is the third fastest in Purdue history and just 0.02 of a second behind teammate Twyla Winfrey's second place time from earlier this year. It is the first time the women have scored in the 60m dash since 2008. Charlton also scored in the 60m hurdles where she took fifth with a time of 8.36 seconds. That time is 0.01 of a second off her PR. Ciana Tabb also scored in the hurdles with an eighth-place time of 8.47 seconds. They were the first Purdue women to score in the hurdles since 2009.
The men's relay team of Andrew Kendrick, Andre' Peart, Kendal Frederick and Mostert ran a time of 3:10.75. That was good for sixth place and three points. The women's 4x400m relay team of Jones, Taylor Morrison, Taylor Dunlap and Smith finished eighth with a time of 3:44.04.
The men's team's fifth-place finish is a jump of five places since last season. The team's 61 points is an increase of 25.2 points and is the most since 2010 when the men scored 67 points and finished fourth. The women's 53 points are an increase of 17 points and are the most they have scored since 2011 when they had 56. The fifth-place finish is four spots higher than a year ago.
The Boilermakers may have picked up a couple more trips to Albuquerque, N.M., and the NCAA Championships as Mostert now ranks eighth in the 200m and 14th in the 60m. Brown is 13th in the triple jump, while Enekwechi is second in the weight throw and 14th in the shot put. Bunch is third in the weight throw and fourth in the shot put. The NCAA takes the top 16 in each event.
The men's and women's teams will now wait for official word on NCAA bids. The championships run March 14 and 15.