IU track and field participated in the Big Ten Indoor Championships this weekend at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio, an event the men’s team won last season.
This year IU took first place in five individual events, and finished second overall to Iowa. Two of those events were won by fifth-year senior Ben Veatch.
Veatch was crowned the champion in the 3000-meter Thursday, crossing the finish line in 8:04.5 to win IU’s first event in the championship. Veatch, who also won the 2019 Big Ten title in the 3000-meter, also advanced to the 5000-meter finals Saturday where he won with a time of 13:42.88.
“In a year where we have all missed time for COVID or injury or just missed opportunities, it’s nice to finally see it come together,” Veatch said. “I was thrilled to be able to win both races and give my team 20 points.”
For the IU men, it was much of the same, as familiar faces junior Rikkoi Brathwaite and senior Cooper Williams won individual titles of their own to remain undefeated this season.
Brathwaite put on a show in particular, tying the all-time Big Ten record in the 60-meter with a blistering 6.55 time. The time was the fastest in the NCAA so far this season and marks a new personal record for the junior.
Williams has been the model of consistency this season, and that continued on the big stage Saturday. Williams took home first place in the 600-meter with a time of 1:17.38.
The final individual champion for IU also came from the men’s side in sophomore Nathan Stone, who cleared a height of 5.35 meters to take the gold medal. Stone’s victory marks the fourth straight year that the IU men have won the pole vault competition at the Big Ten Championships.
Head coach Ron Helmer said he was pleased with the men’s team’s performance, and that while they performed well, the men’s team was outnumbered by an impressive Iowa team.
“We’ll take the runner up finish and are excited about the athletes we’ve advanced to nationals and their opportunities in two weeks,” Helmer said.
The women’s team tied for sixth place, a disappointing result given they were ranked second in the conference heading into the event. Despite not taking home an individual championship, the team had several notable results.
The women were led once again by junior Bailey Herternstein, who took home second place in the mile with an impressive time of 4:43.39. Hertenstein also competed in the 3000-meter, finishing sixth.
Senior Maddy Pollard had the second-best finish for the women as she scored third in the shot put with a distance of 16.83 meters.
The team had a trio of seventh-place finishes Saturday, as freshman Shynae Deas ran in her first career 600-meter final and senior Anna Watson cleared a height of 4.05 meters in the pole vault.
The women’s relay team of Deas, sophomore Maria Anderson, freshman Morgan Snow and freshman Maddie Russin rounded out the seventh-place finishers, recording a time 3:45.14.
“In spots we competed really well but this group is capable of much more than a Big Ten sixth place,” Helmer said, “As we add the leadership and point scoring potential of five girls who have outdoor eligibility only this year, I suspect things will look much differently as we move into the outdoor season.”
Up next, IU track and field hopes to receive an invitation to the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships on March 12-13 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Even if the team is not able to compete, the athletes who were victorious over the weekend will be competing individually.