April 23, 2009
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Purdue men's and women's track and field teams are set to split up this weekend as a select group heads to Philadelphia for the 115th-annual Penn Relays, senior Kara Patterson is set for the Drake Relays, while the remainder of the team heads to Indianapolis for Butler's Stan Lyons Invitational. The Boilermakers have 19 athletes with 22 NCAA Regional qualifying marks heading into the weekend, pushing towards last year's school-record mark of 25 athletes with 35 qualifiers.
Patterson heads to Des Moines, Iowa, as U.S.A. Track & Field is hosting part of its Visa Championship Series for the nation's elite competitors. She will look to better her season-best mark of 58.41 meters (191-08), which is the top mark in NCAA Division I competition in 2009. The field should resemble the U.S. Olympic Trials from this past summer in which Patterson set the event record.
The Boilermakers are set to take several athletes to the Penn Relays, including nine of their NCAA Regional qualifiers, and a few others chasing down regional and national standards. Thursday hopes to see several Boilermakers add their names to the NCAA lists as sophomores Emily Breslin, Matt De Silva, Katie Morrical and Caden Shields are all scheduled to compete. Breslin is aiming for 1.75 meters (5-09.00) in the women's high jump, while De Silva hopes to track down the regional time of 14:12.00 in the men's 5,000-meter run. Morrical and Shields are set to run the 10,000-meter run as Morrical aims for the NCAA Provisional time of 35:00.00 on the women's side, while Shields has his sights on 29:30.00 for the men's NCAA Provisional mark and Purdue record of 29:02.85, held by Donnie Fellows.
Purdue fields six regional standouts on Friday, including sophomores Josh Hembrough
and Bill Hardcastle
on the men's side and junior Nkeiru Ugwoaba
and freshman Terri Anderson
on the women's. Hembrough will vie for the Penn Relays collegiate title in the 110-meter hurdles, currently first in the Big Ten and tied for 14th in the nation with his season-best mark of 13.87. Hardcastle has already met the regional standard in the shot put with last weekend's toss of 17.18 meters (56-04.50), and hopes to add the discus to his resume, tracking down the standard of 51.70 meters (169-07).
Ugwoaba has surpassed the regional standard in the women's triple jump in three of her four outdoor performances after breaking the Boilermakers' indoor record with her mark of 12.90 meters (42-04). She'll look to eclipse the Boilermakers' top-outdoor mark of 12.94 meters (42-05.50), set by Angela Goodman in 1988, as well this weekend. Anderson is in the midst of an outstanding rookie campaign, increasing her career-best marks in the discus throw and shot put in nearly every meet this season. After competing in the collegiate shot put on Thursday, she'll attempt to chase down the Big Ten lead in the discus on Friday, aiming for the top mark of 52.72 meters (172-11).
Senior Ben Harpenau will kick off the final day of competition in Philadelphia with the men's hammer throw on Saturday morning. His season-best mark of 64.07 meters (210-02) is the best in the Big Ten, fifth in the NCAA Mideast Region and 18th in NCAA Division I this season. Purdue will also field the last of its four relays competing on the weekend with the women's 4x800-meter squad. The Boilermakers are set to run the women's distance medley and 4x400-meter relays on Thursday and the men's 4x400-meter relay on Friday.
The Purdue pole vaulters headline the group set for the Stan Lyons Invitational, carrying five regional qualifiers made of two men and three women. Junior Eric Sparks leads the men's Big Ten standings and is tied for sixth in the country with his season-best mark of 5.35 meters (17-06.50), while senior teammate Ben Pax is close behind with his top mark of 5.20 meters (17-00.75). Pax is tied for second in the conference and 18th in the nation with his mark.
On the women's side, senior Mallory Peck leads the team and ranks second in the conference with her top mark of 4.15 meters (13-07.25). The height matches Peck's career-best and equals the 10th-best clearance in NCAA Division I, while sitting just a centimeter from the Boilermakers' outdoor school record held by junior teammate Brianna Neumann. Neumann has a season-best mark of 4.10 meters (13-05.25), matching the third-best height in the conference and 18th-best in the country. Rookie Elizabeth Stover rounds out the women's regional marks in the pole vault, clearing the standard of 3.85 meters (12-07.50). She's the second straight Purdue freshman to hit the pole vault regional mark, following sophomore Tara Turnbull, and the fourth Boilermaker rookie in the last four years.
Turnbull looks to add to the Purdue pole vault total this weekend, carrying a career-best jump of 4.00 meters (13-01.50), while fellow sophomore Chris Thoman hopes to thicken the ranks on the men's side, honing in on the regional standard of 5.05 meters (16-06.75).
Other regional hopefuls heading to Indianapolis include senior Stephen Bach, juniors Lance Moe and Chris Kirkwood and freshman Emily Leckenby. Bach has been closing in on the regional mark of 1:50.40 in the men's 800-meter run, while Moe and Kirkwood both fell just shy of the men's high jump standard of 2.10 meters (6-10.75) last weekend and Leckenby is closing in on the women's hammer throw qualifier of 54.15 meters (177-08). Bach has a season-best of 1:51.02, posted at the Arizona State Invitational, and currently sits 10th in the Big Ten standings. Moe has a career-best of 2.13 meters (6-11.75), cleared in the heptathlon at the indoor conference championship, and hopes to replicate the mark and add the regional qualifier to his preparation for the Big Ten Outdoor Championship decathlon, while Kirkwood's career-best of 2.08 meters (6-09.75) is just shy of his first career regional qualifier. Leckenby stormed on to the Big Ten scene in the hammer throw last weekend, hurling four personal records in her series and climbing to fifth in the conference with her top throw of 51.77 meters (169-10).
Information and results regarding all three competitions will be available at PurdueSports.com. For more information regarding the Penn Relays visit thepennrelays.com, while more information regarding the Stan Lyons Invitational can be found here and Drake Relays information is listed here.