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Saturday, June 22
The Indiana Daily Student

sports

Track and field stays home for NCAA prelims

Track Meet

There’s just something about home for the IU track and field teams.

That’s where they’ll be as they begin their trek toward the NCAA Outdoor Championships.

Fresh off fourth- and third-place finishes for the men and women, respectively, in the Big Ten Outdoor Championships two weeks ago, the Hoosiers will deploy 28 athletes on either squad at their own facility — Robert C. Haugh Track and Field Complex — in the NCAA East Preliminary Round from Thursday through Saturday.

Junior De’Sean Turner, who led IU to a Big Ten title in the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase in Iowa City, Iowa, said the familiar confines could provide more than a comforting feeling as the athletes enter national competition.

“Any time you get to run in front of the home crowd and everything, it’s just a thrill,” Turner said. “It’s a lot better than being elsewhere, somewhere else around the country, and hopefully high school teammates, coaches and friends and a lot more family will be able to come check us out.”

The Indianapolis native made it to last year’s NCAA meet in Eugene, Ore., but felt he left something on the track with a 12th-place finish.

“After nationals I was pretty disappointed,” Turner said. “It wasn’t the race I wanted to run. It wasn’t what I expected. During the race and after, I was pretty disgruntled because during the race, I was worried about everything else around me.

“I wasn’t running my own race like I had been all year. So I think this year, just running the way I want to run and just doing what I’m used to doing, I think it’ll make things a lot easier, a lot less stressful.”

A one-two-four finish in the Big Ten meet with fellow IU juniors Andrew Poore and Andy Weatherford rounding out the effort had Turner thinking this year’s NCAA run might be different.

The men weren’t the only Hoosiers controlling the steeplechase in Iowa City, however.

Senior Sarah Pease claimed the conference crown in the women’s 3,000-meter event to lead three of the race’s top four finishers just as Turner and the men had done. Juniors Caitlin Engel and Breanne Ehrman crossed the line third and fourth, respectively.

“On the girls’ side, we were pretty proud, and we were also pretty impressed,” Turner said. “We knew that they had it in them. Breanne has been performing well all year. Sarah, she’s a seasoned veteran. She knows when to hit it. Caitlin, I don’t want to say she’s a surprise because we knew she’s good, but just being competitive and showing up at the Big Ten meet, especially when we need it, is just really impressive.”

The home advantage could present itself in the steeplechase races as well as in other events in which IU athletes will compete.

Junior Kind Butler is undefeated in competition in Bloomington, senior Faith Sherrill enters the weekend as the East region’s top-rated thrower in the shot put and Poore and fellow junior Ben Hubers are set to run the men’s 5,000-meter event after both came away with the fastest times not to place at last year’s NCAA meet.

Junior Chelsea Blanchard, who enters the women’s 5,000-meter race ranked ninth in the East, said the multitude of Hoosier athletes not only would be great as host to the East preliminaries, but also for the program.

“It really makes you proud to be a Hoosier,” Blanchard said. “Practice hasn’t even changed. We have all the same people that we’ve had all season, so it’s nice to really just keep that consistency. In all our workouts, you have plenty of people to train with. I can’t imagine not having them all here right now or me being a part of it. It’s just really a great thing.”

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