June 8, 2009
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Purdue men's and women's track and field teams head to the University of Arkansas this week for the 2009 NCAA Outdoor Championships. The Boilermakers have six qualifiers in tow, taking four male athletes and a pair of females to compete in the national field.
"We are excited about these six athletes representing Purdue at the NCAA Championships," said Purdue head coach Jack Warner. "All six have an excellent chance to score points at the meet which would give us a strong team showing. Our goal is to come back with six All-Americans and top-20 showing as a team."
Senior Kara Patterson headlines the Boilermakers' NCAA roster, carrying the No. 1 mark in the nation in the women's javelin this season into competition. Fresh off her fourth career NCAA Mideast Regional title, she led the nation all season with her opening mark of 58.41 meters (191-08) at the Arizona State Invitational, but bettered that throw at the regional championship, tossing it 58.56 meters (192-01). What makes Patterson's season accomplishments more impressive is the fact that she's yet to throw from a full approach this year. Patterson starts her pursuit of a national title on Wednesday, competing in the preliminaries at 5:30 p.m., and looking to qualify for Friday's finals, also at 5:30 p.m.
Her junior teammate Stacey Wannemacher is set for her third straight NCAA Outdoor Championship appearance in the women's shot put, entering this year's meet with the nation's 13th-best throw. Wannemacher broke her own Purdue outdoor record in the event twice this season, extending the mark to 16.25 meters (53-03.75) at the Georgia Spec Towns National Team Invitational on April 11, and topping out at 16.35 meters (53-07.75) at the Big Ten Championships on May 16. She'll look to make her first NCAA Championship finals on Wednesday at 4:15 p.m. in the preliminaries. The women's shot put finals are scheduled for Thursday at 4:45 p.m.
All four of the Purdue men's qualifiers are headed back to the national championships as junior Eric Sparks is headed to his third straight NCAA event, while senior Ben Harpenau, junior Adetayo Adesanya and sophomore Josh Hembrough all have advanced for the second consecutive time. Sparks is tied for the No. 11 mark in the men's pole vault this season, clearing a season-best 5.36 meters (17-07.00) to win his first career NCAA Mideast Regional Championship. He won his second consecutive Big Ten Championship on May 17, soaring over 5.32 meters (17-05.50) on his first attempt, and has his eyes set on his first NCAA Championship finals appearance. The pole vault preliminaries are scheduled for Wednesday at 4:30 p.m., with the finals following Friday at 3:45 p.m.
Harpenau looks to cap his Boilermaker career in grand fashion, winning his first Big Ten title this season and earning his first automatic qualifier to the NCAA Championships with a third-place regional showing in the hammer throw. He has set personal records in his last two outings, extending his best to 64.35 meters (211-01) in Columbus, Ohio on May 15, and bumping it up to 64.52 meters (211-08) in Louisville on May 29. Harpenau kicks off the Boilermakers' NCAA competition on Wednesday, throwing in the preliminaries at 10:30 a.m. A throw in the top-12 of the prelims would advance Harpenau to the finals, scheduled for Friday at 1 p.m.
Adesanya needed an at-large bid in the men's high jump to qualify for the national championships, but his top mark of 2.16 meters (7-01.00) carried him safely to Fayetteville. He cleared his career-best mark for the first time to earn the bronze medal at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships, and soared over it again to place sixth at the NCAA Mideast Regional Championships and remain eligible for the NCAA meet. Adesanya is scheduled to compete in the preliminaries Wednesday at 8 p.m., and hopes to continue in the finals on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Hembrough continues to the NCAA Outdoor Championships for the second straight year, in search of his second straight All-America award. He earned NCAA Indoor All-America honors in March after an eighth-place showing in the 60-meter hurdles, and has followed up outdoors with his second straight Big Ten 110-meter hurdles championship and an automatic qualifier at the Mideast regional. His top time of 13.87 is only 22nd in the national field, but his career-best time of 13.58 would move him all the way to eighth. The 110-meter hurdle preliminaries are scheduled for Thursday at 5:50 p.m., with the semifinals set for Friday at 7:05 p.m., and the finals at 12:59 p.m. on Saturday.
PurdueSports.com will provide a live Twitter account of the Boilermakers' action at the 2009 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, updating individual action on a mark-by-mark basis. Visit the Boilermakers' twitter account to read the updates and follow the Boilermakers action all week. For more information on the championships visit the NCAA's official site.