Directional Challenge

PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM Purdue sophomore Stacey Wannemacher looks to hit NCAA qualification this weekend.
Purdue sophomore Stacey Wannemacher looks to hit NCAA qualification this weekend.

Jan. 17, 2008

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Midwest is set to take on the Southeast at the inaugural Big Ten/SEC Track and Field Challenge, hosted by Indiana University. The Boilermakers join the Hoosiers in defense of the conference's honor on Saturday at 11 a.m. at Indiana's Gladstein Fieldhouse.

Scheduled to travel from the Southeastern Conference are Florida, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, the Arkansas women's team and the Tennessee men's team. On the men's side, Tennessee, Kentucky and Florida all placed at the indoor national championships in 2007, while Tennessee and Florida scored at the 2007 outdoor NCAAs. Tennessee proved the cream of the crop, tying for 10th indoors and placing fourth outdoors. Both the Gators and Arkansas earned team points on the women's national scene as the two teams tied for 21st indoors and Arkansas grabbed 15th, while Florida took 46th outdoors. Also representing the Big Ten is the Illinois men's squad and the Ohio State women's team.

"This should prove to be a very competitive meet," said Purdue head coach Jack Warner. "It'll allow both our men's and women's teams to compete at a high level and get a taste of national competition early in the year."

The Boilermaker men got off to a solid start this past weekend, posting a pair of NCAA provisional qualifying marks and nearly notching a few others. Sophomore Jonathan Pullum marked a career-best 20.87 meters (68-05.75) in the 35-lb. weight throw, winning the meet and earning the third-longest throw in Purdue history, while freshman Josh Hembrough stormed on to the collegiate scene with a time of 7.90 seconds in the 60-meter hurdle finals. Hembrough's mark ranks fourth in school history and was good for second overall behind Purdue's all-time record holder in the event, Rickey Pinkney.



Just missing the cut were senior thrower Tyler Miller and first-year sprinter Shane Crawford. Miller marked 16.96 meters (55-07.75) in the shot put to top the Purdue Invitational field, which is 0.79 meters short of the NCAA provisional distance. The throw is nearly two meters further than Miller's opening mark a year ago and is just less than half a meter shy of his indoor best.

Crawford proved to be another rookie sensation for the Boilermakers, clocking the fourth-fastest 60-meter dash time in school history his first time out. His time of 6.78 seconds ties Joey Harris's mark from 2003 and is 0.04 seconds off the provisional qualifier.

On the women's side, senior Astin Steward leads the way with an NCAA provisional mark of her own as she hit 19.58 meters (64-03.00) in the 20-lb. weight throw. A 2007 NCAA Outdoor All-American, Steward boasts a career-best of 20.57 meters (67-06.00) and looks to eclipse that distance on Saturday.

Looking to join her on the NCAA provisional list are fellow 2007 All-Americans Leah Kincaid and Mallory Peck, and sophomore Stacey Wannemacher. Kincaid has potential to earn a trip to nationals in both the 60-meter hurdles and the long jump, clocking a time of 8.61 seconds in last week's hurdles, while hitting the sand at 5.90 meters (19-04.25) from a short approach. The women's 60-meter hurdles standard is 8.43, while the long jump mark is 6.10 meters.

Peck earned national recognition in the pole vault last year, tying for seventh at the NCAA Indoor Championships. Her top indoor mark last season was 4.11 meters (13-05.75), which would easily clear the provisional standard of 3.95 meters. Wannemacher tossed an indoor career-best in the shot put at the Purdue Invitational, falling just shy of the NCAA provisional mark. Her throw of 15.12 meters (49-07.25) is 0.08 meters short of the standard and ranks third Purdue's indoor history.

Results will be available upon the conclusion of the meet at