For five Hoosiers, it all comes down to this weekend.
IU is sending five athletes to the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon.
Sophomore middle distance runner Daniel Kuhn qualified for nationals in the men’s 800-meter run. His 1:48.41 time at the East Regional meet put him in as the 16th seed for nationals. Kuhn set the second-fastest time in school history in the 800-meter run at the first outdoor meet of the season, the Pac-12 vs. Big Ten Invitational on March 26.
The throwing squad will be well-represented in Eugene, as three throwers are competing in nationals for IU: senior Laura Schroeder and junior Nakel McClinton in the women’s hammer throw, and freshman Willie Morrison in the men’s shot put. Morrison said it’s a big deal to the team to have three throwers at nationals.
“A lot of times during the season, we didn’t get a lot of exposure as the sprints and distance teams did,” Morrison said. “So having three of us here is a big deal.”
Schroeder and McClinton have excelled in the women’s hammer throw all season. McClinton set the high mark between the two, a 65.12-meter throw at the IU-Purdue dual meet that set a new school record, but Schroeder won the Big Ten title in the event.
They now have an opportunity to go head-to-head one more time this season. Schroeder’s 62.58-meter throw at regionals gave her the seventh seed for nationals, and McClinton’s 58.88-meter throw gave her the 24th seed.
Morrison has raised eyebrows with his performance this season in the men’s shot put. He has set new personal bests in three consecutive meets, with his 19.27 meter throw at regionals placing him second in school history in the shot put.
He’s the first IU freshman to go to outdoor nationals in seven years, and the first freshman thrower to get to nationals since 1991. He is the seventh seed in the shot put.
Morrison has high expectations for himself this weekend. He said he expects nothing short of a top-eight finish. He added it’s exciting for him to be on such a high level as a freshman.
“I’m looking forward to showing everyone that, even though I’m just a freshman, that I’m able to compete at these big levels,” Morrison said.
After a less than ideal start to the outdoor season, senior pole vaulter Sydney Clute has come back and turned in some very strong performances. She won a conference title in record-breaking fashion, setting a school record, an Ed Weir facility record and a Big Ten Championships meet record with her 4.42-meter vault. She tied for first at regionals with a 4.25-meter vault, which seeded her seventh for nationals.
Clute went to nationals during indoor season and didn’t perform up to her standards. She said she learned a lot from that experience and is excited for her shot at redemption this weekend. Clute is coming off some of her strongest performances of the season at regionals and Big Tens, which she said is big for her confidence at nationals.
“It definitely gives me a lot of confidence having jumped some higher bars here recently,” Clute said.
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