May 17, 2009
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Purdue track and field teams wrapped up the 2009 Big Ten Outdoor Championships, hosted by Ohio State University at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on Sunday, as the men finished fourth with 81 team points, while the women earned sixth place with 64 team points.
The Boilermakers finished with five individual champions on the weekend as junior Eric Sparks and sophomore Josh Hembrough repeated as Big Ten Champions. Hembrough bested the men's 110-meter hurdles, crossing the line in 13.97 to earn his third career conference championship. Sparks topped the field in the men's pole vault for the second straight season, clearing 5.32 meters (17-05.50) and leading a trio of placewinners in the event. Senior teammate Ben Pax grabbed second place to notch the 1-2 finish for the Boilermakers, jumping a season-best 5.23 meters (17-01.75) on his first attempt, while sophomore Chris Thoman earned his first career Big Ten team points, taking fifth place with a mark of 5.05 meters (16-06.75).
Junior Steve Carlson earned fourth place in the men's javelin, hurling a season-best 61.50 meters (201-09) to lock up five team points, and sophomore teammate Bill Hardcastle was fifth in the shot put with a season-best mark of 17.61 meters (57-09.50). The Purdue men picked up team points in several events on the track as well, led by their fifth-place 4x100-meter relay. Hembrough teamed with fellow sophomore David Burroughs and freshmen Mike Willey and Josh Lee to run a time of 41.22, good for four team points. Willey and senior Stephen Bach each tallied a point with respective eighth-place finishes in the 200-meter dash and 800-meter run, and sophomore Shane Crawford chipped in two team points with a seventh-place effort in the 100-meter dash.
The 4x400-meter relay team of Lee, Hembrough, sophomore Andy Dunn and freshman Gabe Pirtle closed out the championship with a seventh-place showing and time of 3:15.20, keeping pace with Penn State University's squad to edge out the Nittany Lions in the team standings.
The Boilermaker women earned a pair of medals on the final day of competition, led by sophomore Emily Breslin's second-place showing in the high jump. Breslin tied for the No. 2 spot, clearing a career-best 1.75 meters (5-09.00) and qualifying for the NCAA Mideast Regional Championships. Junior Nkeiru Ugwoaba posted a bronze-medal showing in the women's triple jump, bouncing an outdoor career best 12.88 meters (42-03.75). Her mark is good for sixth in the NCAA Mideast Region and second all-time in Purdue's outdoor history.
Freshman Terri Anderson and junior Stacey Wannemacher wrapped up an incredible championship performance in the throws area as they finished fourth and eighth, respectively in the women's discus. The pair fought through a very windy day as Anderson threw 45.65 meters (149-09) and Wannemacher threw 44.06 meters (144-07). Wannemacher finished the championships with 19 team points, placing in all three of her throws entries.
Junior Nan Hammel posted her first placewinning performance at the Big Ten Championships, capturing seventh place in the women's 800-meter run with a time of 2:09.43. The Boilermakers' women's 4x400-meter relay closed out the day with a seventh-place effort as senior Lauren Scott, junior Rachel Stalzer, sophomore NaTasha Blair and freshman Elise Glass teamed for a time of 3:46.62.
The Boilermakers' 26 NCAA Regional qualifiers continue their season in two weeks, heading to the University of Louisville for the Mideast Championships. Automatic bids to the NCAA Outdoor Championships are at stake for the top-five individual finishers in every event, while at-large bids are available for the top-12 finishers, based on their top mark of the season.