Senior Salute, Alumni Remembered

April 16, 2009

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Purdue men's and women's track and field teams will honor their 11 seniors and former men's head coach with the third-annual Dave Rankin Invitational on Friday and Saturday. The men's and women's hammer throw will start the meet on Friday at 3 p.m., while action continues Saturday at 10 a.m. with the women's javelin throw. The Boilermakers also welcome back Purdue track and field alumni and will celebrate their reunion with a series of races and relays throughout the meet.

The meet originated in honor of former head coach Dave Rankin, who led the Boilermakers' men's track and field program for 35 years (1947-81). Rankin came to Purdue from Warsaw, Ind., in 1938 and was a member of the Boilermakers' varsity football and track and field teams. He earned letters in football in 1938, '39 and '40, and garnished track and field letters in 1939 and '40. He was a two-time football All-American, and was named team captain and Most Valuable Player his senior season. On the track, Rankin set the United States record in the indoor 60-yard hurdles in 1940.

Post collegiately, Rankin joined the United States Marine Corps, where he served as a fighter pilot. He piloted approximately 150 missions in the South Pacific in the early 1940s as a part of the famous Black Sheep Squadron. Rankin earned four air medals in his military career and was given his honorary discharge in 1946, when he returned to West Lafayette, Ind.

Upon his return to campus, then-athletics director Red Mackey gave Rankin the choice of becoming an assistant football coach or the head track and field coach. Rankin chose the track and field option and the rest became history. In his tenure, Rankin mentored 17 NCAA All-Americans, including NCAA Champions Larry Burton (200-yard dash, 1972) and Ed Langford (pole vault, 1981), and 27 Big Ten Champions. His athletes still hold 10 school records at Purdue (six indoor and four outdoor), including both the indoor and outdoor long jumps held by current athletics faculty representative Jeff Bolin. He was also the head coach of the United States track and field team at the 1975 World University Games in Rome.

Rankin was awarded the Sports Illustrated Silver Anniversary Football All-American Award in 1965 and was inducted to the Indiana Football Hall of Fame in 1977. After retiring he was inducted to the Drake Relays Coaches Hall of Fame in 1995 and the Purdue Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame in 1998. The Purdue University track on which we compete today was named in his honor in 1993. Rankin passed away in December of 2006 at the age of 87. He is survived by his wife Ann; son, Tom; and daughter Randee.

This weekend's meet also marks the final home meet for the Boilermakers' 10 seniors and would like to honor women's athletes Dana Bolden, Ranay Harvey, Kara Patterson, Mallory Peck and Lauren Scott, and men's athletes Stephen Bach, Ben Harpenau, Ben Pax, Bryce Simon and Steve Swank. This elite group has given several outstanding performances to Purdue over the past four seasons and will be missed on and off the track.

The class of 2009's most notable achievements came from Patterson and Peck. Patterson was a 2008 NCAA All-American in the javelin, set a Purdue and American collegiate record, set the United States Olympic Trials record and went on to become the first female track and field Olympian in school history. She's a two-time Big Ten Champion (2005, 2008), three-time NCAA Mideast Regional Champion (2005-06, 2008) and the 2008 Big Ten Women's Field Athlete of the Year. Peck is a two-time NCAA Indoor All-American in the pole vault, finishing sixth in 2008, and seventh in 2007, and a two-time Big Ten Champion, winning indoors in 2007, and outdoors in 2008. She's also a two-time NCAA Outdoor Championship qualifier, posting a top placing of 10th in 2008.

Harpenau and Harvey have accounted for several other outstanding marks as Harpenau was a 2008 NCAA Outdoor Championship qualifier in the hammer throw, while Harvey earned a trip to the 2009 NCAA Indoor Championships. Harpenau owns the fourth longest hammer throw in Purdue's history at 64.23 meters (210-09) and has medaled at the Big Ten Championships four times, including second-place honors in the hammer throw at the 2008 outdoor meet. Harvey advanced to the national indoor meet and just missed the Boilermakers' all-time mark in the 60-meter hurdles this winter with her career-best mark of 8.26, and has qualified for the NCAA Mideast Regionals in each of the past two seasons in the 100- and 400-meter hurdles. She's fourth all-time in the 100-hurdles with a top time of 13.55.

Bach, Scott and Pax all look to throw their names into this hat in their final campaign as each has approached or achieved a career-best mark this year. Bach clocked his top-time in the men's 800-meter run at the Arizona State Invitational, crossing the line second overall and just 0.62 seconds off the regional standard with his time of 1:51.02, while Scott eclipsed her career-best in the women's 400-meter dash at last weekend's Georgia Spec Towns National Team Invitational with a mark of 56.28. Pax has already surpassed the NCAA Regional standard in the men's pole vault and is just a centimeter shy of his top collegiate mark with his top clearance of 5.20 meters (17-00.75). Pax sits second in the conference in the event and is tied for 18th in the country.

The Boilermakers will host a trio of alumni events during Saturday's action with a 5,000-meter run at 11:30 a.m., a 4x100-meter relay at noon and a 4x400-meter relay at 3:30 p.m. Purdue head coach Jack Warner is excited for the return of several of the Boilermakers' illustrious alumni and the opportunity for his current athletes to meet and interact with them.

"Purdue has such a strong tradition in track and field and there has been so much success in our history," said Warner. "This is an outstanding opportunity for our teams to meet those who came before them at Purdue and learn from their accomplishments."

The Boilermakers have 20 NCAA Regional qualifying marks this season, spread out among 12 women and five men. Several of them look to improve upon their national marks this weekend, while a few others hope to join their ranks and earn a trip to Louisville in late May. On the women's side, the Boilermakers have nine opportunities to improve their regional qualifiers, all falling in the field events. Three have already met the standard in the pole vault in Peck, junior Brianna Neumann and rookie Elizabeth Stover, while sophomore Tara Turnbull looks to join the pack. Peck and Neumann are currently tied for 12th in the country with their top clearance of 4.10 meters (13-05.25).

Junior Christina Madison and freshman Leah Eber sit first and second in the conference and 14th and 17th in the nation in the long jump at 6.23 meters (20-05.25) and 6.20 meters (20-04.25), respectively, and junior Nkeiru Ugwoaba is fourth in the conference with her top mark of 12.54 meters (41-01.75) in the triple jump.

Junior Stacey Wannemacher has already surpassed her Boilermaker outdoor record in the shot put this season, hurling it 16.25 meters (53-03.75) last weekend, while rookie Terri Anderson has qualifiers in both the shot put (14.43m/47-04.25) and the discus (49.30m/161-09). Wannemacher looks to improve on her record and possibly pick up another qualifier in the discus or hammer throw.

Harvey is set to make her outdoor debut this weekend, competing in the 100-meter hurdles and hoping to clock near her career best in the event. The Boilermaker women are within two of their 2008 regional qualifying total and look to surpass it on Saturday.

The Boilermaker men are closing in on several more NCAA Regional marks this season, especially in the cases of Bach, sophomores Chris Thoman and Bill Hardcastle and freshman Mike Willey. Thoman has his sights set on becoming the third Boilermaker to qualify in the men's pole vault and clear the standard to 5.05 meters (16-06.75), while Hardcastle hopes to earn regional marks in the shot put and discus throw for the second straight season. Hardcastle needs to hit 16.80 meters (55-01.50) in the shot put and 51.70 meters (169-07) in the discus. Willey is within half a second of the regional marks in a pair of events in his rookie campaign, posting a season-best of 21.67 in the 200-meter dash and a top time of 14.66 in the 110-meter hurdles.

Purdue is less than a month away from the 2009 Big Ten Outdoor Championships and continues its preparation this weekend. For full results and live updates please visit throughout Friday and Saturday.




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