Dec. 7, 2013
FORT WAYNE, Ind. - The Boilermaker track and field teams opened the 2013-14 season on Saturday and it didn't take long for school records to be broken. Dani Bunch broke the women's weight throw and shot put school records while Chukwuebuka Enekwechi broke Keith McBride's record in the men's weight throw.
"We got exactly what we wanted to out of this early meet," head coach Lonnie Greene said. "With a young group, we were able to get the nervousness out of them and I was really pleased with the results. I thought Dani Bunch, Chuk Enekwechi and the throws group, breaking school records, did an unbelievable job. Ciana Tabb, Kari Shoolbraid and Aarin Jones ran great for us as well. Overall, it was a good meet. We achieved exactly what we wanted and, at the end of the day, I was really pleased with how we did."
Bunch opened the meet with the weight throw. It took her just four throws into the season before she broke the school record, a record that she was one centimeter from tying last year. Bunch threw 21.72m (71-03.00) to win the event by more than 15 feet. Bunch's mark is currently the nation's best by more than seven feet, though not all results had been posted as of publishing. After a short break, Bunch re-entered the ring, this time for the shot put. It took just two throws before she broke her previous PR and school record of 16.70m (54-09.50). Bunch threw 16.77m (55-00.25) to win the event by more than seven feet.
Enekwechi was determined to not be outdone by his teammate. The sophomore threw 22.19m (72-09.50) to break his throws coach's record of 22.04m (72-03.75) which he set in 2004. Enekwechi won the event by nearly 14 feet over his teammate Coy Blair. Blair got the better of Enekwechi in the shot put, though. Blair threw a first-place distance of 18.14m (59-06.25), while Enekwechi was second with a mark of 18.07m (59-03.50).
"Coach McBride and the throwers were great," said Greene. "McBride told me they were going to be lights out today, and they were. Some of the marks they threw are No. 1 in the country. To see how Chuk threw today and know that it was better than his national championship performance last year (where he finished third), speaks volumes about the work he put in. Same goes for Dani. Her throw would have been top three or four at NCAA last years. We are throwing these distances and it is only December. That shows where we are going, so I am very excited for the 2014 season."
Aarin Jones did well running for the Purdue women, despite competing on a short, flat track. Jones took first in the 400m dash with a time of 57.50 seconds. That time won by 1.74 seconds over teammate Makayla Earnheart, who competed in her first collegiate race. Mackenzie Tromble took third in the race with a time of 1:00.02 in her debut. Taylor Dunlap was fourth with a time of 1:00.05.
Kari Shoolbraid competed with a full bill of health for the first time in over a year. She ran the fifth-fastest 600m run in Purdue history as she posted a time of 1:31.96 to win the race. Megan Plenus was also a winner on Saturday. Plenus won the 800m run with a time of 2:13.92 on the flat track. Ciana Tabb was runner-up in the 60m hurdles. She advanced to the finals with a time of 8.68 seconds in the prelims. In the finals, Tabb was just 0.08 of a second off her PR. She posted a time of 8.51 seconds.
The Purdue women swept the top three in the long jump. Nikki Nunn won the event with a mark of 5.99m (19-07.75). Savannah Carson took second in her first collegiate performance. Carson leapt a distance of 5.91m (19-04.75). Twyla Winfrey took third for the Boilermakers.
On the men's side, Tyler Askew had a strong Purdue debut. The junior transfer finished second in the 60m dash with a time of 6.81 seconds. Then, Askew won the long jump with a mark of 7.02m (23-00.50). Demetrius Carr took second in the event with a leap of 6.98m (22-10.75) in his first meet as a Boilermaker. Obokhare Ikpefan won his first collegiate race as the freshman took the top spot in the 400m dash. Ikpefan posted a time of 50.65 seconds to hold off teammate Rob McNair, who finished in 50.70 seconds.
Brandon Winters opened his year with a win in the 60m hurdles. Winters posted a time of 8.04 seconds in the finals to win by 0.02 of a second.
"Overall, our performance, considering it's December, speaks volumes to the future of our group and how good this group is," added Greene. "It speaks to the sport that we are building. It shows we are moving in the right direction. We sent a message that we are putting together a good program with a great group of kids. Now, we just need to keep working over Christmas and when we get back. We can't let anything slip over break.
"If you compare this to our first meet last year, we are way ahead of the game. We ran on a 200m flat track, so the times that we ran today were even more impressive, especially Kari and Megan's times. At the end of the day, the kids performed very well. I am exceedingly pleased at the end result. I am very excited about 2014."
The Boilermakers are off until January when they host the Gene Edmonds Cup of the 11th.