IU track and field sends 31 to NCAA regional meet



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IU sophomore Derek Drouin competes in the high jump event at the 2010 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships. Drouin cleared 2.28 meters to earn the national title. IDS File Photo Buy Photos

IU track and field is in Jacksonville, Florida, this weekend where 31 Hoosiers will compete in the NCAA East Regional Meet. This is the second highest total number of athletes IU has sent to regionals in the meet’s six year existence.

The top-12 finishers in each event will move on to the NCAA Championship meet.

The IU athlete with the highest seed at regionals is junior thrower Nakel McClinton, the second seed in the women’s hammer throw. McClinton said she had a good week of practices and she feels great heading into the weekend.

“I’m just ready to compete and advance to nationals,” McClinton said. “I’ve failed to do so the past two years, so hopefully the third time’s the charm.”

McClinton is also one of three Hoosiers that will compete in multiple events, along with sophomore middle distance runner Daniel Kuhn and junior distance runner Jason Crist. In addition to the hammer throw, McClinton is also competing in the women’s discus throw. Kuhn is competing in the men’s 4x400-meter relay and 800-meter run, in which he’s the sixth seed. Crist is competing in the men’s 5,000-meter run and 3,000-meter steeplechase.

Senior distance runner Rorey Hunter had qualifying marks in both the men’s 5,000-meter run and 1,500-meter run, but he’s only competing in the 1,500-meter run at regionals. He’s the 26th seed in the 1,500-meter run, but he would’ve been seeded higher in the 5,000 -eter run.

McClinton and senior thrower Laura Schroeder have battled it out in the hammer throw this season, with both athletes recording exceptional marks that landed them first and second in the school record book. Schroeder, who won the Big Ten title in hammer throw two weeks ago, will be the third seed at regionals.

The Hoosiers will have two athletes with top-10 seeds in the women’s pole vault. Senior Sydney Clute set a facility record, a meet record and a school record two weeks ago at the Big Ten Championships with her 4.42-meter vault, which won her the conference title. She is the sixth seed at regionals. Senior Sophie Gutermuth, who is fourth in school history in pole vault, is the eighth seed at regionals.

Freshman thrower Willie Morrison had the second best throw in school history in the shot put at Big Tens, with a 19.25-meter throw. He’s seeded seventh in the event at regionals.

Helmer wasn’t really concerned about the 16 athletes that have been to regionals before.He said he expects the majority of them to compete well. But he recognized the 15 athletes that haven’t been to regionals before could go either way.

“I suspect a good number of them will compete really well,” Helmer said. “But it’s a difficult thing, sometimes, in your first race at an NCAA-level meet. Sometimes people don’t handle it as well, particularly young people, as you’d like to see. But hopefully we’ve prepared them as best as we can to deal with those things.”

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