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May 20, 1998

BIG TEN MEN’S PREVIEW

%^$Schedule of Events/Results %^$

All of the Big Ten teams in the championship are represented by%^$talented, hard working and determined individuals. The student-athletes are required by definition to go above and beyond the call of duty and balance the demands of academics, athletics, family and friends as young adults paving the way for their futures. The Big Ten is a conference of intense competition and one of the premiere conferences in the nation. %^$

Wisconsin is the defending team champion and is looking to repeat.%^$Minnesota captured the 1998 team title indoors and is loaded with enough talent to impose a threat on the conference. The Wolverines have claimed 30 outdoor team championships, more than any other Big Ten school, and they have the experience and skills this year to compete above the rest. However, being a member institution of the Big Ten Conference empowers all teams to compete with the best of the best and anything is possible. %^$ %^$

Sprints, Hurdles and Relays
%^$ The sprints department will be full of exciting new faces with no%^$returning champions from last year. Hoosier Russell Brooks (So.,%^$LaSalle, Quebec) has clocked the best time in the conference this season%^$in the 100-meter dash. Illinois’ Sherman Armstrong (Fr., Chicago, Ill.)%^$is atop the Big Ten with the fastest time in the 200-meters. %^$

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Ohio State’s Andrew Pierce (Fr., Yellow Springs, Ohio) leads the Big Ten in the 400-meters, having posted the fastest time to date. He%^$finished fourth in the conference indoors. Illinois’ Chris Jones (So.,%^$Lisle, Ill.) is another favorite for the 400-meters. He was the indoor%^$champion in the 400-meter hurdles both last year and this past season.%^$He was the 1997 Big Ten Indoor Freshman of the Year. %^$

%^$ Hoosier Ty Yeager (Sr., Floyds Knobs, Ind.) is having a breakthrough season and has clocked the best time in the conference in the 110-meter hurdles this season. He finished 13th and was atop all Big Ten competitors at the indoor nationals. Iowa’s Dion Trowers (Sr.,%^$Pickering, Ontario) is another favorite in the 110-meter hurdles. He was the indoor champion in the 55-meter hurdles.%^$

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As his quest continues for a Big Ten title, Hawkeye Monte Raymond (Sr.,%^$Toronto, Canada) enters the conference competition with the best time of%^$the season in the 400-meter hurdles. Another person to watch in the%^$event is Fighting Illini Matt Klima (Sr., Oak Park, Ill.), who has%^$marked the second-fastest time in the conference to date and finished%^$third at the 1997 Big Ten outdoors.%^$

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Iowa is looking to sweep both the 4×100- and 4×400-meter relay%^$competitions. The Hawkeyes have recorded the fastest times in both%^$events, but Illinois returns to defend the title in the 4×100-meter%^$relay and its quartet has posted the second best times in both relays%^$this season. The Boilermakers captured the 4 x 400-meter relay at the%^$Big Ten indoors.%^$

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Middle and Long Distance
%^$ Illinois’ Bobby True (Jr., Glendale Heights, Ill.) has reigned supreme over the conference as a two-time 800-meter champion and has posted the best time in the conference to date in the event. He posted a third-place finish at the NCAAs in the 800 and is a three-time%^$All-American. %^$

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Michigan’s dynamic distance duo of Kevin Sullivan (Sr., Brantford,%^$Ont.) and John Mortimer (So., Londonderry, N.H.) are pacing the%^$competition in the conference yet again. Sullivan, the indoor national%^$champion in the mile and an 11-time Big Ten champ, heads into the%^$competition as the defending 1,500-meter champion. Mortimer returns to%^$defend his titles in both the 10,000-meters and 3,000 steeplechase after a fifth place finish in the 5,000-meters at the indoor nationals. %^$

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Jumps and Pole Vault
%^$ Hawkeye Bashir Yamini (Jr., Dolton, Ill.) has won three consecutive Big%^$Ten titles in the long jump. At last year’s Big Ten championships, not%^$only did he capture the long jump title, but he tied the Big Ten record%^$of 26’8-1/4″. This record was set by track and field great Jesse Owens%^$in 1935 and remained untouched for 62 years.%^$

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Minnesota high jump specialist Steffan Strand (So., Upplands-Vasby,%^$Sweden) is the defending Big Ten champ in the high jump and inscribed a%^$third-place finish at nationals to his list of accomplishments during%^$the indoor season. He is a three-time conference champion and has won%^$every Big Ten championship he has entered.%^$

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Boilermaker Mike Turner (Jr., Inglewood, Calif.) is the defending%^$champion in the triple jump. He has seized three Big Ten titles in the%^$event and achieved All-America status once. Turner’s teammate, Ike%^$Olekaibe (So., Las Vegas, Nev.), has posted the best mark in the%^$conference so far this season. He finished third earlier this year at%^$the indoor championships. %^$

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Purdue’s Randy Miller (Sr., Ossian, Ind.) is returning to defend his%^$title in the pole vault, an event which he has claimed three conference%^$championships. He has climbed from a pole vault specialist to a master%^$of the event by achieving three-time All-America status.%^$

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Throws and Decathlon
%^$ Nittany Lion Troy Burkholder (Jr., Denver, Pa.) returns to defend his%^$title in the javelin throw. His season’s best throw surpasses the%^$provisional qualifying standard for the NCAAs and is more than six%^$inches better than any other distance posted in the conference this%^$season.%^$

Indiana’s Kurt Krick (So., Ossian, Ind.) is atop the conference in the%^$shot put and he captured the indoor title this past season. Krick’s%^$teammate and defending title holder Zach Flemming (Sr., Bloomington,%^$Ind.) has posted the second-best throw in the event. Krick is also a%^$favorite in the discus, entering the competition with the second-best%^$conference performance behind Iowa’s Jeremy Allen (Fr., Indianapolis,%^$Ind.).%^$

Penn State’s Neal McNutt (Sr., Womelsdorf, Pa.) leads the conference%^$competition in the hammer. Badger Greg Gill (Sr., Appleton, Wis.)%^$returns to defend his title in the decathlon. He has surpassed the%^$automatic qualifying standards for the NCAAs this season.%^$

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BIG TEN WOMEN’S PREVIEW

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The Big Ten Conference is known for its fierce intraconference rivals%^$and top-notch talent. Amidst the best of the best is Wisconsin. The%^$Badgers are the defending team champions and are in the hunt for their%^$third consecutive outdoor championship. The Wolverines are contenders%^$for the title as well after knocking off the Badgers for the 1998 indoor trophy. The Fighting Illini will threaten the top spots along with Ohio State. The Buckeyes are competing in front of an emotional home crowd with bittersweet feelings toward the end of an era in Ohio Stadium. However, with all things considered, don’t count the Hoosiers, Hawkeyes, Spartans, Golden Gophers, Boilermakers or Nittany Lions out because all of the teams are represented by extremely talented student-athletes. %^$

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Sprints and Relays
%^$ Fighting Illini Aspen Burkett (Jr., Denver, Colo.) is firing out of the%^$blocks and is the dominating threat in the 100- and 200-meter dashes in%^$the Big Ten. She claimed the 1996 200-meter conference title and%^$acheived All-America status in the event, but redshirted last year due%^$to an injury. Ohio State’s Dominque Calloway (So., Aurora, Colo.) is a%^$contender for the 200-meter title as well.%^$

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Looking to control the points in both the 4 x 100-meter and 4 x%^$400-meter relays is Illinois. The Fighting Illini have clocked the best%^$times in both events this year. The 4 x 400 squad notched a second-place%^$Big Ten finish indoors with the support of standout Yvonne Harrison%^$(Jr., Bronx, N.Y.).%^$ %^$

Hurdles
%^$ The Buckeyes’ one-two punch of Donica Merriman (Fr., Trotwood, Ohio)%^$and Calloway sets Ohio State atop the competition in the 100-meter%^$hurdles. Merriman captured the 55-meter high hurdles title at the Big%^$Ten indoors in her conference debut. Calloway is a1997 100-meter hurdle All-American and has improved consistently all season in her hunt for a Big Ten title. %^$

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Although these two have posted the best performances in the conference, don’t count Illinois’ Harrison out as she is an experienced and proven hurdler. She has the third best time going into competition in the 100-meter hurdles and was the runner-up indoors to Merriman. Harrison is the defending champ in the 400-meter hurdles and has surpassed the qualifying standard for the NCAAs. She leads the%^$conference and is looking to capture a second Big Ten ring.%^$

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Middle and Long Distances
%^$ Wisconsin’s twin sisters Jenni and Janet Westphal (Jr., Marinette,%^$Wis.) bring double the talent and double the threat to the conference%^$mid-distance department. Jenni Westphal, a six-time track All-American%^$and five-time Big Ten champ, paces the conference with the best times%^$this season in both the 800- and 1,500-meters. At the world-reknown Penn%^$Relays, she was named the 1998 Penn Relays Female Athlete of the year.%^$Janet Westphal, a five-time track All-American and two-time Big Ten%^$champ, has clocked the third-fastest time in the 1,500 and%^$second-fastest time in the 3,000-meters. %^$

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The Badgers’ Sara Fredrickson (Sr., South Milwaukee, Wis.) is the%^$person to watch in the 3,000-meter competition as her quest continues%^$for her first Big Ten title. She acheived All-America status last year%^$and is a competitor on and off the track as a four-time academic all-Big%^$Ten selection.%^$

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Wolverine Katie McGregor (Jr., Willoughby, Ohio) currently leads the conference in the 5,000-meters. She was the indoor national champion in the 3,000 and finished fourth in the 5,000 last year. Wisconsin’s Angi Kujak (Sr., LaCrosse, Wis.), a five-time All-American and a five-time Big Ten champ, has posted the fastest time in the 10,000-meters this year with the closest conference finish more than one minute behind her. She has served her team as captain for three consecutive years. %^$

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Jumps
%^$ Michigan’s Tonia Longe (Sr., Sellebakk, N.J.) is the favorite in the long jump. She won the Big Ten indoor long jump and triple jump earlier this year. Illinois boasts returning outdoor long jump champion Tisha Ponder (So., San Jose, Calif.) and is looking for a third Big Ten championship from her. She was the Indoor and Outdoor Freshman of the Year last year.%^$

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Buckeye Tamieka Porter (Sr., Escondido, Calif.) enters the competitionwith the best mark in the triple jump. She gained first -time All-America status in the event this past indoor season and hopes to complete a fine collegiate career with her first Big Ten title in front of a home crowd in historic Ohio Stadium.%^$

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Wolverine Nicole Forrester (Jr., Cookstown, Ontario) is the defending champion in the high jump, she won the conference event indoors and finished sixth at the NCAAs. She has cleared the top height in the conference this season.%^$

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Throws and Heptathlon
%^$ Nittany Lion Jen Pastore (Jr., Winfield, Pa.) is expected to%^$single-handedly control the Big Ten competition in the javelin. She is a two-time All-American in the event and won the event at the Penn Relays. In March, Pastore recorded the best javelin throw in the country and has automatically qualified for the NCAAs.%^$

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Illinois’ Collinus Newsome (Jr., Denver, Colo.) is the prevailing%^$threat in the shot put. She has won all six Big Ten shot put%^$championships she has entered and is a three-time All-American in the%^$event.%^$

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Boilermaker Toyinda Smith (Jr., Gary, Ind.) is the defending champion in the discus and begins competition with the best marks in the discus and hammer throws in the conference. She was an indoor All-American and holds the Big Ten records in both the hammer and 20-pound weight throws.%^$

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Michigan’s Longe is the defending heptathlon champion and also won the pentathlon indoors. Ohio State’s Desiree Jones (Fr., Akron, Ohio) is another favorite in the event after her second-place finish in the%^$indoor pentathlon. Jones’ pentathlon debut at the indoor Big Tens was an OSU all-time best performance.