Cross Country Big Ten Championship Preview

PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM
Purdue rookie Scott Vicenzi looks to make an immediate impact in his first conference championship race.

PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM
Purdue rookie Scott Vicenzi looks to make an immediate impact in his first conference championship race.
PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM

Oct. 29, 2010

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Purdue men's and women's cross country teams embark on the championship season this weekend, heading to Madison, Wis., Sunday for the 2010 Big Ten Championships, hosted by Wisconsin at Thomas Zimmer Championship Course. The women's 6K race is scheduled for 10:45 a.m. (CT) with the men's 8K competition to follow at approximately 11:30 a.m.

The Boilermakers look to ascend the Big Ten standings in 2010, hoping to rebound from a ninth-place finish on the women's side last season and a 10th-place showing on the men's. Despite the team placing from 2009, both squads made improving strides as the women improved their team score by 46 points, while the men shaved 17 points from their 2008 mark, despite a less-than-healthy team entry. The improvements have continued through the 2010 season as both the Purdue men and women have posted several career-best and record-setting times, while displaying team success in various competitions. "We're excited about our possibilities for the weekend," said Purdue head coach Jack Warner. "Both our teams have worked hard in preparation for the conference meet and look to have all that work pay off in Wisconsin."

The Boilermaker women have attacked the school record books, posting three of the fastest 6K times in Purdue history, including a new Boilermaker record. Sophomore co-captain Camille Buscomb took down the six-year old Purdue record, previous set by Amber Ferner at Eastern Michigan in 2004, at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational on Oct. 2 this season, completing the Badgers' course in 20:47.8. Buscomb also added the sixth-fastest 6K in Purdue history her last time out, posting a time of 21:15.1 at the Pre-National Invitational, hosted by Indiana State. Junior teammate Stephanie Bonk made the other addition to the Boilermaker record books, clocking the ninth-fastest 6K in school history at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational at 21:22.5. "Camille and Stephanie have really stepped up this season and I've been very impressed with them," said Warner. "They both had great races their last time we ran at Wisconsin and I expect them to take it to a new level on Sunday."

 

 

Looking to keep pace with Buscomb and Bonk are senior Jennifer Hall, junior co-captain Kara Conflenti, fellow junior Kyla Chapman and sophomore Kelly McCurdy, who've all set new career-bests this season at 6K. All four ran their new personal records on Wisconsin's course, creating a buzz of excitement for Sunday's competition.

The Boilermaker women are ranked 13th in the NCAA Great Lakes Region heading into the weekend's competition, but own a victory over Wisconsin and a tie with Illinois (both at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational). The women's top finish over the last decade was a fifth-place showing in 2001 (116 points), while their top finish in school history was a second-place effort in 1983 (71 points).

On the men's side, the Boilermakers have generated the most regular-season success they've seen over the last 10 years and hope to see that carry over into the conference championship race. Although currently ranked ninth in the NCAA Great Lakes Region, the Purdue men climbed as high as sixth in the regional poll, their highest regional ranking in school history. They won the IPFW Invitational to open their season, and have followed with a second-place effort at the Indiana Intercollegiate Championships, an 11th-place showing at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational and a 19th-place finish in the Blue Race at the Pre-National Invitational. They topped conference foes Iowa and Michigan at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational, and another victory over the Wolverines at the Pre-National Invitational. "When healthy, this group has shown they can put together an outstanding team effort and compete at a high level," said Warner.

Junior Charles White and sophomore Stephen Schulz have been the catalysts of this team effort, setting new career bests for 8K and accounting for the majority of the squad's top times throughout the season. White was the first Boilermaker across the line in three of their four races, with Schulz turning in the other top effort. White lowered his personal record at 8K to 24:11.9 at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational, while Schulz followed him closely at a career-best mark of 24:19.4. Schulz has ran under 24:30 in his last two races, and under 25 minutes in all four outings this season. Senior Caden Shields, junior co-captain Cale Allen and sophomore Simon Rogers have accounted for the rest of the Boilermakers' top times, all turning in marks under 25 minutes this season. Shields is primed for a breakout performance, looking to regain the form that took him to NCAA Championship qualification last season.

For more information on this weekend's championship race, visit the Big Ten Cross Country Championships home page. Results and a full recap of Sunday's action will be available at PurdueSports.com after the conclusion of the race.