April 13, 2013
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The Purdue track and field team wrapped up the Sea Ray Relays on Saturday. Vanessa McLeod broke a school record to highlight the women's performances while Geoff Davis improved the second-best mark in program history.
"We had a presence at the Sea Ray Relays," head coach Lonnie Greene said. "To hear Purdue's name called as many times as we did is outstanding for our program. We were called with the likes of Tennessee and other strong, established programs and that shows where this program is heading. It's great for our school and our program for a crowd of that size to see and hear how well Purdue University is doing."
McLeod improved her outdoor best in the 800m run by 1.14 seconds which broke the school record in the process. The freshman finished second in the showcase 800m with a time of 2:06.36 behind just Tennessee's Nijgia Snapp's winning time of 2:05.00. McLeod's time is 22nd in the nation and the third-best in the Big Ten this season. She passed Brooke Woodruff's previous school-record time of 2:06.69 from 2006. McLeod now owns both the indoor and outdoor school records in the 800m run.
"I think Vanessa can even run a 2:03 or 2:04 this season," Greene said afterwards. "She should be able to get to the national championships if she just replicates what she has done so far, but we know what she is capable of. It is exciting to have a freshman with the abilities that she has. We were fortunate to find that kind of talent and that's what makes the future so exciting. We keep getting better and better, especially the younger kids, and that's what makes the future so bright and exciting for Purdue."
Davis jumped an outdoor PR and improved on the school's second-best jump. The senior was tied for the second-best jump as he matched his outdoor best last weekend after clearing 2.22m (7-03.50). At the Sea Ray Relays, though, Davis ran away with the competition after he cleared 2.24m (7-04.25). That height was five and a half inches higher than the next best mark. Davis is tied for fourth in the country and is second in the Big Ten. He is also now just a quarter inch shy of Dave Glassburn's school record which he set in 1987.
The women's 4x800-meter relay team ran a solid race on Saturday. The group consisting of Bre'Anna Smith, Vanessa McLeod, Megan Plenus, and Kelly McCurdy finished second in the event with a time of 8:48.45. The Purdue record is 8:37.96 by Cindy Cassell, Jymette Bonnivier, Jeannie Molohon, and Becky Cotta from 1984. The Boilermakers finished behind only Tennessee's top team which ran a 8:42.73.
"The kids have completely bought in and they are beginning to realize that they can run at this level and beyond," said Greene. "That's why we keep seeing the improvements and records week in and week out. They believe in what we are doing and they accept what we teach them. We are still a ways out as a team and there is a lot of room for improvement across the board. But, we are going to go to work every day to get better and I truly believe the results will reflect our hard work."
A number of other Boilermakers ran personal and season bests over the weekend. Andrew Kendrick ran a personal best in the 400m dash. He finished third overall with a time of 47.45 seconds, just 0.45 second behind the winning time. That time is in the top 75 in the nation this season. Kevin Griffith had a season best in the 800m run. He finished with a time of 1:50.97 to take fifth in the 800m showcase race. His time is also in the top 75 in the nation this season.
Andre' Peart continues to improve in the 400m hurdles. He posted a personal-best time of 52.40 seconds to take second in the race, just 0.17 second behind the winning time posted by Terry Benson who ran unattached. Peart's time is top 50 in the country and just 0.41 second outside Purdue's top-five list.
Eric Harris had a strong day on the track for Purdue. He finished the 100m dash in 10.65 seconds. He also had a season-best in the 200m dash as he posted a time of 21.27 seconds in the prelims. That was good enough to advance him to the finals where he finished fourth with a time of 21.35 seconds. Brandon Winters also ran well for the Boilermakers. He finished third in 110m hurdles with a time of 14.03 seconds. That time is 28th in the nation this season and a personal best, though it doesn't officially count because it was wind-aided.
The Boilermakers return to action next week with a pair of meets. Some of the distance runners will travel to California for the Mt. SAC Relays while the rest of the team will stay home for the lone remaining home meet of the season, the Dave Rankin Invite. The home meet is also Alumni Weekend for track and field.