May 1, 2014
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Purdue track and field teams host their home opener on Friday and Saturday at the Rankin Track and Field. The Boilermakers welcome 12 teams for the Dave Rankin Invite, which begins with the hammer throw on Friday.
This weekend’s meet will have a little bit of a Big Ten Championships preview to it, as two other conference opponents will make the trip to campus. Michigan State and Ohio State will send their men’s and women’s teams to compete. Other teams in the mix include Ball State, Marquette and Western Michigan.
The Boilermakers look to continue to build momentum heading into the championship part of the season, as they are coming off the Drake Relays where they broke seven school records. The week prior, head coach Lonnie Greene referred to the Kentucky Relays meet that Purdue competed in as “the best track meet in his tenure” as the Boilermakers’ head coach.
The men’s team, ranked 29th in the most recent USTFCCCA polls, has nine marks that rank in the nation’s top 25 in the country. Among the group, Chukwuebuka Enekwechi and Kevin Griffith will be the only ones competing in their ranked event. Enekwechi is scheduled for the hammer throw, which he currently ranks eighth in the country, and the shot put, where he ranks 23rd. Griffith has the 20th-fastest 800m time and will compete in the event on Saturday. Raheem Mostert has a top-25 time in the 100m dash, though he will not compete in the event on Saturday. Instead, the junior is scheduled in the 200m dash, where he currently is ranked 84th in the country.
On the women’s side, four Boilermakers have top 25 marks in the country. Dani Bunch leads the way with the seventh-best shot put mark in the country, a mark that leads the Big Ten. Bunch is currently a two-time reigning Big Ten Field Athlete of the Week, as well as a two-time defending Big Ten Outdoor shot put champion. Nikki Nunn is the only other top-25 Purdue female that will compete in her primary event. She is scheduled for the women’s long jump, where she has the No. 21 jump in the country this year.
More school records could be in jeopardy this weekend. Current school record holders Enekwechi and Bunch will be in obvious contention in the hammer and shot put, respectively, though Bunch did also PR in the hammer last week with a mark within inches of the Purdue top five. The women’s 100m dash could produce some top program marks, as Carmiesha Cox and Twyla Winfrey, among others, will compete. Winfrey is within a couple tenths of a second of the record already, while Cox has a high school PR better than the program record mark of 11.65 seconds.
The women’s 800m has proven to be one of the Purdue women’s strongest events this year. BreAnna Smith, Megan Plenus and Vanessa McLeod are scheduled to compete. McLeod, still trying to get back to form after recovering from an injury, has the second-best mark in program history while Smith holds the No. 4 mark. The women’s steeplechase has also been a strength this year and while school record holder Blair Doney won’t compete in the event this weekend, Hope Schmelzle and Kristin Fritts will. Schmelzle has the No. 6 time in Purdue history while Fritts is No. 7.
Another event to keep an eye on is the men’s 200m dash. Mostert, the Big Ten Indoor Champion in the event, will be up against the 2013 Indoor Big Ten Champion and outdoor runner-up and this year’s indoor conference runner-up Timothy Faust of Ohio State. Eric Harris II will also compete, and he has the best time in the event of the three this year.
The women’s 400m has the potential of previewing the Big Ten Championships finals. Purdue’s Aarin Jones is scheduled to be up against Ohio State’s Aaliyah Barnes and Sonikqua Walker. Jones has the sixth-best mark in the conference, while Barnes and Walker are second and third, respectively.
Several of the field events, including the women’s triple jump and men’s shot put and hammer throw are scheduled to slate some of the best in the Big Ten against each other.
Saturday’s festivities will also include the Community Mile. The event is open to all age groups with three different races. The youth mile is scheduled to take place on the track at 11 a.m. ET, followed by the college mile at 11:20 a.m. The adult mile will conclude the community event and begins at 11:40 a.m. Adults are $5 while college and youth are $2. Entry includes a participation prize, breakfast, drinks and entry to the meet. For more information, contact Michaela Patt by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday’s event will have live scoring on PurdueSports.com. Up-to-the-minute updates will also be posted on the Purdue track and field Twitter feed @PurdueTrackXC and on the Game Day Central page on PurdueSports.com. A live, interactive blog will be available there for fans to interact, ask questions, and find out results from all of the day’s action. A full recap and results will be posted to PurdueSports.com following Friday and Saturday’s completion.