Providence, R.I. – With the regular season finished, BIG EAST teams travel to Jumbo Elliott Track at Villanova Stadium in Villanova, Pa., for the 2011 BIG EAST Outdoor Track & Field Championships. This is the 22nd time in the 32-year history of the BIG EAST Outdoor Track & Field Championships that the event will be held at Villanova. The BIG EAST Championship consists of 13 men’s teams. The Notre Dame men are in search of their fourth-straight title and eighth overall, second to Georgetown for the most team titles.
Below is an event-by-event preview for the 2011 BIG EAST Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
100-meter dash: Seventeen BIG EAST athletes qualified for the BIG EAST Championship in the 100-meter dash. None of the top-seven finishers from last year’s championship return to the field this season. USF senior Antillio Bastian enters the championship with the top-time in the conference, notching a mark of 10.48 at the LSU Alumni Gold Meet on April 23. Bastian will look to become the first Bull to win the event since the school joined the conference in 2005. Marquette junior Tyler O’Brien comes in with the second-fastest time in the BIG EAST at 10.58 seconds. Connecticut sophomore Jesse Drinks and Notre Dame senior Miklos Szebeny round out the top-five times this season.
200-meter dash: The top two athletes in the 100-meter dash are also the top two in the 200-meter dash. USF’s Bastian owns the best time in the conference this season at 21.23, while Marquette’s O’Brien is second at 21.26. USF has three of the top four times on the BIG EAST performance list during the outdoor season, with junior David Hunter and Reshaw Exilien ranking third and fourth, respectively. Rutgers took the top two spots last year, with Bruce Owns and Nil-Amon Robertson finishing one-two. Only Georgetown senior Sean Suber and Rutgers junior Steve Werner return to the field from the top eight last year.
400-meter dash: Another USF athlete tops the charts in the 400-meter dash, with junior Pascal Orelus owning the top time in the conference this season at 47.39 set at the Indiana Polytan Invitational on April 22. DePaul junior Tonderai Tomu is the top returning finisher, placing fourth last year in the event, while also taking third at the 2011 BIG EAST Indoor Track & Field Championships. Tomu is third in the conference with a time of 47.57. Attention should also be paid to 2011 BIG EAST Indoor Track & Field 400-meter champion, Notre Dame freshman Patrick Feeney. He owns the fifth-fastest time in the conference at 47.69.
800-meter run: Connecticut senior and 2011 BIG EAST Indoor 800-meter champion Michael Rutt leads a 24-athlete field in the event. Rutt’s fastest time this year is 1:47.41, which he set at the NEICAAA Indoor Track & Field Championships. He won the BIG EAST Indoor title with a time of 1:50.10, and finished second to teammate Brian Gagnon at last year’s outdoor championship. Rutt also won the event at the 2008 outdoor championships. Also highlighting the field is Notre Dame senior Jack Howard, who placed third last year and has the fifth-fastest time in the conference at 1:49.82 this season.
1,500-meter run: Notre Dame sophomore Jeremy Rae is the top returning finisher from the 2010 BIG EAST Outdoor Track & Field Championships, placing fifth in the 1,500-meter run. This year, Rae ranks third in the conference with a time of 3:41.11, which also puts him eighth in the nation. Villanova senior Matthew Gibney owns the best time in the BIG EAST this year at 3:40.48. The Friars have two athletes in the top four, with junior Julian Matthews ranking second (3:40.90) and Dominic Channon ranking fourth (3:42.50).
5,000-meter run: The top two finishers from last year’s championship return in the 5,000-meter run. Louisville senior Matt Hughes is the reigning BIG EAST 5,000-meter champion and ranks seventh in the conference with a time of 14:05.50. Hughes edged out Cincinnati junior Eric Finan last year. Finan has the fastest time in the conference this year at 13:49.80. Villanova has three athletes in the top four, with senior Hugo Beamish in second (13:51.60), sophomore Mathew Mildenhall third (13:55.04) and senior Brian Long fourth (13:59.72).
10,000-meter run: Reigning BIG EAST 10,000-meter champion, Syracuse sophomore Tito Medrano, heads a field of 13 athletes in the event. Medrano won the event in a time of 29:38.20 last year, and ranks first in the BIG EAST after running a time of 29:22.48 at the Stanford Invitational this season. Notre Dame senior Dan Jackson looks to challenge Medrano for the title, placing sixth last year and ranking second in the conference with a time of 29:28.61 this year.
110-meter hurdles: Cincinnati junior Terrence Somerville and Georgetown senior Chris Kinney enter the championship as the favorites to win the 110-meter hurdles. Somerville registered the league’s top time of 13.48 at the 2011 Drake Relays on April 27. Kinney is the 2009 champion in the event and 2011 Indoor Track 60-meter hurdle champion. He ranks second in the league with a time of 14.00, while USF junior David Aristil stands third with a time of 14.08.
400-meter hurdles: USF junior David Aristil leads a field of 17 athletes into the 400-meter hurdles. Aristil is in search of his second straight 400-meter hurdle title, which would give USF four consecutive BIG EAST titles in the event. All four top finishers in the event last year will compete this year. Georgetown junior Toby Ulm placed second last year, and ranks third in the BIG EAST with a time of 51.78 this year. Pittsburgh junior Jermaine Lowery took fourth a year ago, and ranks second with a time of 51.66. Rutgers junior Aaron Younger placed third in 2010 and sits seventh on the BIG EAST performance chart this year with a time of 53.62.
3,000-meter steeplechase: Louisville junior Matt Hughes will be the favorite in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Hughes owns the second-best time in the conference entering the championship at 8:52.98 after winning the national title in the event last year. Hughes, the 2010 BIG EAST Championship Most Outstanding Track Performer, is second this season to freshman teammate Mattias Wolter, who ran a time of 8:51.92 at the Mt. SAC Relays on April 14 to take over the league’s top time. Syracuse sophomore Pat Dupont is the only other BIG EAST athlete with a sub-nine minute time this year, ranking third in the conference with a time of 8:54.29.
4x100-meter relay: USF finished third in the 4x100-meter relay in 2010, but has the best time in the BIG EAST this season at 41.08. The team of Neamen Wise, Kevin Bell, Reshaw Exilien and David Hunter registered the time at the USF Collegiate Invitational on April 1. Syracuse is the reigning champion in the event, but will have to replace holes left on the team by Antoine Clark and Michael LeBlanc. The Orange rank second in the BIG EAST with a time of 41.21 set at the Cornell Upstate Challenge. The team included Shamel Lewis, Darryl White, Victor Nwosu and Donald Pollitt.
4x400-meter relay: Reigning BIG EAST champion Rutgers owns the conference’s top time in the 4x400-meter relay at 3:10.70. The Scarlet Knights return Kevin Brown and Aaron Younger off last year’s winning relay team, while adding in Steve Werner and Corey Caidenhead. Villanova is second in the BIG EAST with a time of 3:11.24 set at the Penn Relays on April 28.
4x800-meter relay: Connecticut looks to repeat as champions in the 4x800-meter relay. The Huskies hold the top time in the BIG EAST at 7:22.89. Three of the four members of last year’s championship squad return this year, including Dan Holst, Tim Bennatan and Michael Rutt. Scott Johnson steps into the third spot on the relay team, replacing the slot vacated by Brian Gagnon. Georgetown is second in the conference with a time of 7:23.11.
Javelin: Nine of the top javelin throwers from the 2010 championship return to compete this year. Cincinnati senior Brian Zimmerman looks to repeat as champion after claiming Cincinnati’s first BIG EAST title in the event last year. He ranks 16th in the conference with a mark of 55.68 meters. Connecticut sophomore Cody Unger owns the league’s top mark this season at 71.23 meters, which ranks 18th in the country. He finished third last year. Also returning is Rutgers senior Jeremy Pennino, who looks to reclaim the title that he won in 2009. Pennino is second in the BIG EAST with a throw of 62.86 meters.
Discus: Rutgers sophomore James Plummer is in search of back-to-back BIG EAST discus titles and enters the 2011 championship with the conference’s best mark of 60.43 meters. The two-time BIG EAST Field Athlete of the Week ranks fourth in the country. Plummer won the title last year, becoming the first Rutgers athlete to win the discus since Sam Segond in 2005. DePaul junior Tim Nedow is second in the BIG EAST with a toss of 55.46 meters.
Hammer Throw: With the graduation of three-time BIG EAST hammer throw champion Brad Millar, a new champion will be crowned this year. Connecticut sophomore Joshua Faboyede has the best toss in the conference this year at 59.59 meters. Notre Dame returns three athletes who finished in the top four last year, led by senior John Belcher. Belcher placed fourth in 2010 and has the second-best throw in the league this year at 57.76 meters.
Pole vault: Notre Dame junior Kevin Schipper tries to continue to carry on the family legacy of BIG EAST pole vault champions. Schipper won the title last year while his brother, Matt, was the pole vault champion in 2009. Schipper owns the top mark in the BIG EAST, clearing a height of 5.25 meters. He set that mark while winning the title at the 2011 BIG EAST Indoor Track & Field Championship. Connecticut’s Kyle Duggan ranks second in the conference with a mark of 5.15 meters. He placed second behind Schipper at last year’s championship.
Long jump: Louisville tries for its fifth BIG EAST long jump championship in six years with two of the best leapers in the conference heading into the 2011 championship. Juniors Wesley Smith (7.82 meters) and Seon Powell (7.54 meters) rank first and second in the league respectively. Smith is the 2011 BIG EAST Indoor Track & Field long jump champion. Connecticut junior Aaron King ranks third in the conference with a mark of 7.51 meters.
Triple jump: The top two spots in triple jump belong to a pair of Rutgers athletes. Freshman Devin Jones, the 2011 Indoor champion in the event, has a BIG EAST best leap of 15.59 meters. Junior teammate Kevin Bostick is second with a jump of 15.58 meters. Villanova senior Robert Sainvil is the top returning finisher, taking third a year ago.
High jump: Rutgers junior Adam Bergo returns as the reigning BIG EAST outdoor champion in the high jump. The junior did not compete at the indoor championship, but cleared a height of 2.11 meters at the Princeton Larry Ellis Invitational to rank fourth in the league in the outdoor season. The top three finishers at the Indoor Championship also rank in the top three of the outdoor performance list. Louisville senior Neil Angermeier ranks second in the conference with a mark of 2.18 meters, which he set while winning the 2011 Indoor title. Sophomore teammate Mike Edwards holds the top spot with a mark of 2.19 meters. Connecticut sophomore Noel James, who finished third at the Indoor championship, ranks third a height of 2.15 meters.
Decathlon: Eight athletes prepare to compete in the decathlon at the 2011 championship. With the graduation of Connecticut’s Sean Smith, a two-time champion in the event, Notre Dame senior Justin Schneider leads the pack entering the championship. Schneider registered 6,909 points at the Alabama Relays on March 24, which ranks first in the conference. Connecticut Sophomore Jesse Chapman stands second with 6.541 points.
Five Different BIG EAST Schools Earn Weekly Awards
For the third-consecutive year, the BIG EAST recognized a men’s and women’s Track Athlete of the Week as well as Field Athlete of the Week for five weeks of the outdoor season.
Men’s Track Athlete of the Week Field Athlete of the Week
March 29: Jeremy Rae, Notre Dame Kevin Schipper, Notre Dame
April 5: Tyler O’Brien, Marquette James Plummer, Rutgers
April 12: Matt Hughes, Louisville Weston Banks, Louisville
April 19: Mattias Wolter, Louisville Kyle Gann, Louisville
April 26: Eric Finan, Cincinnati James Plummer, Rutgers