March 16, 2014
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The Boilermakers wrapped up the indoor season on Saturday with the conclusion of the NCAA Championships. Dani Bunch and the Purdue women finished t-19th, while the men tied for 32nd.
“We made some very good strides this year,” head coach Lonnie Greene said. “When you compare this year’s finish to that of years past, it is a step in the right direction. I don’t want to be satisfied until we are a player at this meet, and I believe we can get there. We made a step in the right direction and I am very thankful for that. As long as we continue to get better from one year to the next, we will eventually be successful. We had a very good indoor campaign at the conference meet and this week at the national meet, but we have work to do and we are not going to rest until we are a player at the national championships.”
Bunch scored all 10 of the Purdue women’s points at the championships. A day after taking third in the weight throw, Bunch was back in the ring for the shot put. She battled through her first three throws, and snuck into the finals in eighth place with a best mark of 16.49m (54-01.25). That distance came on her second attempt and was her only recorded mark through five throws, as she had four fouls. Heading into her final attempt, Bunch knew she couldn’t finish worse than eighth, but the senior was determined to climb up the podium. She launched her best throw of the day with a mark of 16.97m (55-08.25), which put her comfortably in fifth. Bunch was the only thrower to improve her mark in finals.
Bunch’s 10 points gave the women their highest finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships since 2000 when they finished 17th with 11 points. The women’s team’s 10 points is tied for the second-most points scored at the championships in program history, while the 19th place finish is the fifth-best finish ever at Purdue.
“It’s always good to have kids like Dani Bunch,” added Greene. “She is what you would call a real warrior. We didn’t score in this meet last year, and then came back this year and we were one point out of 15th place all because of the way she competed. My hat’s off to Coach Keith McBride for a job well done this entire indoor season.”
Two other Boilermakers also competed on Saturday and both finished higher than their championships seed. Chukwuebuka Enekwechi returned to the ring a day after taking his second career third-place finish in the weight throw to compete in the men’s shot put. The sophomore fouled his first attempt before recording his best mark of the championships on his second attempt, a distance of 18.17m (59-07.50). That mark put him in 13th place, one spot ahead of his original seed. Enekwechi missed the finals by two feet, nine and three quarter inches. The Laurelton, N.Y., native finished with a First Team All-America honor in the weight throw and second team honor in the shot put.
Cierra Brown competed in her first career NCAA Indoor Championships event on Saturday with the women’s triple jump. She entered as the No. 14 seed in the event, but missed qualifying for the finals by a hair, as she fouled two of her three attempts by the slimmest of margins. Brown managed to leap 12.62m (41-5) on her second attempt, which at the time put her in ninth. Her mark wound up falling three spots and she finished in 12th. Brown officially missed the finals by nine inches, but earned second team All-America honors.
“Any time you get to the national championships, you are saying you are one of the best collegiate athletes this country has to offer,” said Greene. “This is a great experience for all four of our athletes, including Cierra Brown who was here for the first time. I am excited for the program because we now have a great opportunity to build on this for the outdoor season and hopefully we will take a large group to the outdoor championships. We have some really good things to build off.”
The men’s team finished with six points, from Enekwechi’s third-place effort in the weight throw, and earned a tie for 32nd. The finish was the program’s second best since 2005, with the top finish in that span coming last year with an 18th place finish.
“Our goal now is to get everyone healthy and back on the track. I believe we can be a very good track and field team for the outdoor season,” Greene said looking ahead. “We have made some strides and now we get some pieces back that will help us. When you add that to what our four indoor qualifiers accomplished, we have something to be excited about.”
With the conclusion of the indoor season, the Boilermakers jump right into the outdoor season this week in California with a couple meets, including the USC Trojan Invite Friday and Saturday in Los Angeles.