BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - The Purdue men's and women's track and field teams had a great first day of competition at the 2011 NCAA Outdoor Championship East Preliminary Rounds, hosted by Indiana University at Robert C. Haugh Track Complex on Thursday. The Boilermakers advanced three athletes to the national meet, set for June 8-11, at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.
Sophomore Geoff Davis was the first Boilermaker to punch his ticket, clearing four consecutive bars to advance in the men's high jump. Davis made it look easy, coming in low at 2.06 meters (6-09.00), but setting the standard at height after height as he cleared 2.06, 2.11, 2.14 and finally 2.17 meters (7-01.50). He was one of just athletes to clear the top mark of the day, and one of few to remain clean on the day. This is Davis' second straight trip to the NCAA outdoor meet, and third straight national meet including this year's NCAA Indoor Championships, where he tied for fourth to capture All-America honors.
Fellow sophomore Jakob Engel had a huge day to qualify for nationals in the men's shot put, topping his previous personal record by more than half a meter with a throw of 18.18 meters (59-07.75). He popped his first PR of the day in the prelims, hurling a throw of 17.91 meters (58-09.00), good enough for the No. 8 mark heading to finals. His first two attempts were just over 17 meters, but his third and final throw (which he technically didn't need to take) was the big one, sealing up his first career national bid. Senior teammate Bill Hardcastle came up just shy of a trip to Des Moines, finishing 15th in the event with a toss of 17.70 meters (58-01.00). He'll get to try again on Saturday in the men's discus, which is scheduled for 5 p.m. (ET).
Like Engel, junior Leah Eber will make her first career trip to the NCAA Outdoor Championships next week after qualifying in the women's long jump on Thursday. Eber posted the No. 8 mark in the field at 6.15 meters (20-02.00), boasting a very consistent day with other marks at 6.13 and 6.10 meters.
Senior Shane Crawford automatically qualified for tomorrow's national quarterfinals in the men's 100-meter dash, finishing third in his heat with a time of 10.41 seconds. The NCAA East field was cut in half today, trimming from 48 to 24, and tomorrow the top three times from the three heats earn automatic trips to nationals, and the next three-fastest times overall qualify as well.
The Boilermakers came up empty in the women's hammer throw on Thursday as neither senior Stacey Wannemacher nor freshman Dani Bunch were able to advance to finals. Wannemacher had a top mark of 55.38 meters (181-08), while Bunch threw 52.64 meters (172-08). Both come back tomorrow to try and advance to NCAA's in the women's shot put. Sophomore Elizabeth Stover was unable to advance in the women's pole vault as well, falling shy of the opening height of 3.70 meters (12-01.50).
Senior Chris Kirtz and freshman Seth Virgil turned in two of the top marks in their flights in the men's long jump as Virgil had the top mark in flight one at 7.22 meters (23-08.25), while Kirtz was second in flight two at 7.26 meters (23-10.00). However, the Purdue pair were unable to reach the finals as the third and fourth flights turned in a series of impressive marks, including some over eight meters.
Action resumes tomorrow at 11 a.m. with the men's hammer throw, while the first Purdue competition gets underway at 1 p.m. with the women's shot put and women's high jump.