May 18, 2014
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Boilermakers picked up three more medals on Saturday to bring the two-day total to five at the three-day Big Ten Championships. Purdue also qualified 14 entries for Sunday's championship events, which begin at 10 a.m. ET at Rankin Track and Field.
Nikki Nunn won her first career Big Ten Championship on Saturday. The senior long jumper posted a mark of 6.24m (20-05.75) on her third attempt, which put her in first place heading to the finals. That didn't give her any comfort though, as she admitted to reflecting back to the Big Ten Indoor Championships where most of the field hit their big jumps in the finals.
In the finals, Nebraska freshman Jazmin McCoy had her biggest jump with a mark of 6.11m (20-00.50) on her fourth attempt. Nunn anxiously waited by the pit after each jump to hear her competitors' marks, just to have an idea of what she needed. With just two jumps left, one by Iowa senior Zinnia Miller and the final by Nunn, Miller hit her biggest mark of the day, a distance that Nunn thought might have passed her, as she waited at the end of the runway for her final attempt.
"I didn't know at that point if I had won, but I kind of didn't want to know," Nunn said afterwards. "I figured it would be best if I didn't know. So, I decided to kind of go towards the pit, but then turned and ran back because I decided I didn't want to know. I decided that I was just going to go for it, make a huge jump and just lay it all on the track, and it worked out."
Miller's mark was 6.20m (20-04.25), just an inch and a half behind Nunn's third jump, so without knowing for sure, she had won her first Big Ten Championship. She ended up with a jump of 6.20m (20-04.25) of her own on her final attempt, but the gold medal was already hers.
"It feels amazing to win," added Nunn. "This is all I really wanted, to win a Big Ten Championship and advance to nationals knowing that I can do something there. I am really excited."
Nunn continued the streak of Purdue women scoring in the long jump at the meet, which now stands at 10-straight years. She also picked up her second medal, after winning a bronze a year ago, and became the third Purdue woman to win the event, joining Leah Kincaid (2008) and Leah Eber (2011, 2012). The Purdue women have now won the event three of the last four years, and four of the last seven.
Elsewhere around the track, Dani Bunch picked up her 11th career Big Ten medal and the second of the weekend. The fifth-year senior took second in the shot put after throwing 16.80m (55-01.50) on her final attempt to move up a spot. Bunch has scored 16 of the Purdue women's 36 points so far. She now has won five gold and six silver medals for her career at Big Ten Championship events.
Blair Doney took advantage of her final Big Ten Championship by medaling in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Doney hung around the lead pack for the entire race and made a move to grab a hold of second place over the final 200 meters. The senior broke the previous facility record with a time of 10:11.50, breaking Amber Ferner's 2004 record of 10:12.26, though the new record is now held by Michigan State's Leah O'Connor, as she won with a time of 10:06.10.
"It felt incredible," said Doney afterwards. "It was my goal all year to score in the steeple. I've been working for it basically since cross country season. To be able to actually get a medal is an incredible, incredible feeling."
Hope Schmelzle also scored in the steeple despite coming into the event with the 13th-fastest time in the conference. Schmelzle ran most of the race toward the back of the lead pack and hovered around 10th place. Then came the final lap. Schmelzle turned on the jets a passed a handful of runners en route to a 8.92-second PR and a seventh-place finish. Schmelzle's time of 10:23.38 ranks sixth in Purdue history, just 5.08 seconds outside the top five.
"I love the kick, I love the finish. It's my favorite part," Schmelzle said with a smile on her face. "We have been working on that in practice for the last couple weeks. Blair actually told me to keep the kick in mind. She reminded me that if I was feeling tired to channel those workouts and that's what got me through there."
Two other Boilermakers scored on Saturday. Jake Waterman delivered a fourth-place finish in the men's steeplechase after using a kick of his own. Waterman was inside the top eight in the final lap, but powered his way into the top five down the homestretch. The senior nearly caught Michigan's Mason Ferlic at the line, but came up short by less than a step. Waterman finished with a time of 8:50.19, a personal record by 0.84 of a second and the third-fastest time in Purdue history. Ferlic was third with a time of 8:50.15, while Ohio State's Jackson Neff won with a time of 8:47.86.
Caleb Fricke scored in the discus. The sophomore finished with a mark of 54.75m (179-07), which came on his first attempt. Fricke took sixth points and scored three points for the men.
The men currently sit in 10th with 18 points, but that number may be deceiving because they qualified several individuals into Sunday finals.
Raheem Mostert had a huge day on the track as he crossed the finish line first in three different races. First, he ran the anchor leg of the 4x100m relay team, also with Tyler Askew, Andrew Kendrick and Eric Harris. Mostert pulled away from the field down the stretch and posted a team time of 40.04 seconds to auto-qualify for Sunday's finals. Next, he ran in the 100m dash in front of his track coach, Lonnie Greene, and football coach, Darrell Hazell. Mostert, running in lane nine, led from gun to tape with his best non-wind-aided mark of the season, a time of 10.28 seconds. That time was 0.20 seconds better than Timothy Faust of Ohio State who took second in the heat and had the second-fastest overall time. Mostert wrapped up his day with the 200m dash. He ran into a headwind of 0.9 meters per second, but still posted his fastest time of the season, crossing the line in 20.75 seconds. Not only did the time win the heat by 0.41 of a second and qualify him for the finals, but it also likely qualified him for the regional.
Purdue had a huge day in the high hurdles as well. Ciana Tabb set the tone, also running in lane nine, by running a 0.18 of a second PR to take second in her heat with the second-fastest time in school history. She ran a 100m hurdle time of 13.41 seconds. Brandon Winters then followed that up by running away with the 110m hurdle trials. Winters ran a 0.08 of a second PR with a time of 13.61 seconds. His time was the fastest overall on Saturday by 0.24 of a second. He will compete in Sunday's finals from the middle lane.
Other Boilermakers to qualify through to Sunday include Aarin Jones in the women's 400m dash, Eric Harris in the 100m dash, Andrew Kendrick in the 400m dash and Kevin Griffith in the 800m. Dan Porter and Tyler Wynn advanced to the 1,500m finals and Andre Peart auto-qualified for the 400m hurdles.
Two other Boilermakers moved on and won their heats by wide margins to do so. BreAnna Smith broke the facility record with a PR in the 800m. She posted a time of 2:06.25, a PR of 0.62 of a second, which moved her into third place all-time in the Purdue history books. The school record holder in the event, Kari Shoolbraid, ran away with the fourth heat. She cruised to a time of 2:07.41 to win her heat by nearly a full second.
The women's team currently sits fourth with 36 points after the second day.
The final day of competition begins Sunday at 10 a.m. ET with the men's javelin. The first Boilermaker to compete will be Cierra Brown in the women's triple jump at 11 a.m. Brown finished fourth in the indoor event at the conference meet.