IU Coach Ron Helmer said he was more pleased with his team after Saturday’s dual meet against Purdue than he was after any other meet this season. The men’s team defeated Purdue 88-72 while the women’s team lost to the Boilermakers 85-75.
“As a result of better effort, a lot of those people who disappointed us last week filled in the gaps pretty well and started to do some pretty nice things,” Helmer said. “A lot of people took big steps forward who have been floundering a little bit up to this point.”
IU and Purdue competed against each other for the second consecutive weekend. Last week, they were both in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge at Louisville, Kentucky. In that meet, the women’s team finished ahead of Purdue, but the men’s team finished behind the Boilermakers.
Sophomore sprinter and hurdles runner Zach Reitzug said the turnaround for the men’s team this week was the result of improved chemistry.
“I thought, as a team, we all felt like more of a unit this week,” Reitzug said. “To come together as a team is always nice, especially at this point in the season.”
Reitzug set the ninth-best time in school history in the 400-meter hurdles with a 51.61 second run. He said the key to his success this week was trusting his training.
Junior thrower Nakel McClinton had a strong meet. She broke the school record in the hammer throw for the third time this season, and she had the fourth-best discus throw in IU history. She set personal bests in both of those events, plus the shot put.
McClinton said she had a good week of practice in all three events, so she could sense something special was coming.
Freshman thrower Willie Morrison recorded the fifth-best shot put mark in school history. Like McClinton, he also set personal bests in the shot put, hammer throw and discus throw.
“That’s difficult,” Helmer said. “Often times you hit a big one in one event, and then you kind of go to sleep in the other ones. But both of them, I felt like, did a great job.”
Helmer also said he was impressed with freshman sprinters Taylor Williams and Riley Egbula. Williams won the 400-meter dash and recorded the seventh-fastest time in school history. Egbula finished right behind her in the race and in the record book, running the eighth-best time in school history.
Senior pole vaulters Sophie Gutermuth and Sydney Clute finished first and second, respectively, in the pole vault. Gutermuth set a season best for the team with a 4.32-meter vault. Clute set a season best as well with a vault of 4.22 meters.
Junior thrower Dyrek Chowning set a personal best in the hammer throw with a 60.63-meter throw, the fifth-best mark in school history.
One of Helmer’s biggest takeaways from the meet was how great of a team environment the athletes fostered.
“Everybody was into the meet, everybody was appreciating what their teammates did,” Helmer said. “I think we’ve been working toward that.”
The Hoosiers swept the top three in five events — men’s discus throw, men’s high jump, women’s 1,500-meter run, men’s 1,500-meter run and men’s 800-meter run.
Going into the home stretch of the season, Helmer said he feels his team is heading in the right direction. McClinton agreed and said they could surprise some people at Big Tens.
“If I compare where we are this week to where we were last week, I absolutely would tell you we’re moving in the right direction,” Helmer said. “Now, the challenge is going to be to sustain that and make it matter when it matters.”
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