Junior Willie Morrison couldn’t help but stare in admiration.
A small scoreboard flashed the results from Saturday’s men’s shot put competition.
At the top, in first place, was Morrison’s name.
Morrison, who came in ranked third in the men’s shot put field, left victorious at the Big Ten Outdoor Track and Field Championships, while also setting a new personal record throw of 20.22 meters. It also shattered IU’s school record, which Morrison already had at 19.98 meters.
“It felt great,” Morrison said. “The better feeling was getting the PR. Everyone knew I wanted to get that PR and when I finally got it, it was awesome.”
Through his first four throws, Morrison fell as far back as fifth place. However, he came roaring back on his final two throws, moving into first with a throw of 20.15 meters on his fifth attempt and then his top toss on his sixth and final attempt.
As he waved his arms to the Bloomington crowd in the bleachers at the Robert C. Haugh Track and Field Complex, he was able to use its motivational cheers to power through at the end.
With a gold medal around his neck, he couldn’t help but smile when thinking about it.
“Back in the day, I would say nobody cheer for me, it hypes me up too much,” Morrison said. “Today, I just wanted to try something new and it worked.”
It was a day full of smiles for IU in the field events, as the Hoosiers were able to take advantage of a number of scoring opportunities to move up to a tie for third place with 29 points in the men’s championship and remain tied for fourth with 32 points on the women’s side.
In the long jump, juniors Treyton Harris and Aaliyah Armstead exceeded expectations by both finishing third overall in the men’s and women’s events. Harris came into the championship ranked fifth, while Armstead was seeded sixth.
Harris topped out with a jump of 7.54 meters, while Armstead posted a personal-record mark of 6.30 meters.
Meanwhile, sophomore Khayla Dawson, who came into the day ranked first overall in the women’s shot put, earned points with a fifth-place finish.
It was all part of a day full of ups and downs for IU’s field event participants. However, Coach Ron Helmer saw it as a day mostly full of positives.
“Good teams can have a person here or there come up short and cover it,” Helmer said. “I don’t know if we're there quite yet, but I’m looking forward to the future where I know we can cover it.”
The Hoosiers still managed to earn points in running events as well. Junior Joe Murphy finished sixth in the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase, while junior Haley Harris scored on the women’s side by finishing seventh.
A number of IU runners set themselves up nicely in trials. Sophomore William Session and freshman Zykeria Williams advanced to the finals in the men’s and women’s 110-meter hurdles and freshman Natalie Price advanced in the women’s 400-meter run.
Meanwhile, the Hoosiers had a multitude of runners advance in the 800-meter races. Seniors Daniel Kuhn and Jordan Huntoon and sophomore Cooper Williams advanced on the men’s side, while senior Kendell Wiles, junior Haley Harris and sophomores Joely Pinkston and Mallory Mulzer moved on for the women.
Overall, Helmer said he's liked what he’s seen from his teams in the trials so far.
“We’re represented pretty well,” Helmer said. “To get to where they are, they’ve had to run a lot of PRs so I don’t know how much more I can ask from them except from being in the right place at the right time and being ready to take advantage from any breakdowns from other people.”
Huge performances in the field from the likes of Morrison, Harris and Armstead could set up IU’s runners nicely on day three.
With the remaining finals commencing Sunday, Helmer said there’s still a lot of work to be done tomorrow.
“We’re still in a pretty good spot to be able to score some points,” Helmer said. “But I’m still not as comfortable as I was hoping I might be after day two.”
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