Indiana Daily Student

IU track and field prepares to compete in Big Ten Indoor Championships this weekend

<p>IU track and field athletes cheer on their teammates Feb. 28, 2020, at the Big Ten Indoor Championships at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio. The Hoosiers will compete at the 2021 Big Ten Championships  Thursdayto Saturday in Geneva, Ohio. </p>

IU track and field athletes cheer on their teammates Feb. 28, 2020, at the Big Ten Indoor Championships at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio. The Hoosiers will compete at the 2021 Big Ten Championships Thursdayto Saturday in Geneva, Ohio.

Nearly one year after it last participated in a postseason event, IU track and field will head to Geneva, Ohio, for the Big Ten Indoor Track and Field Championships.

The men’s team, which will compete in the mornings followed by the women in the afternoon, is looking to defend its 2020 Big Ten title in a crowded group of contenders.

“Our men have a real challenge in front of them, as there appear to be five teams with a legitimate chance to win, a couple of which look better on paper than we do,” head coach Ron Helmer said. 

The men come into the event ranked third in the Great Lakes Region, which is home to six Big Ten schools. Michigan and Ohio State are the only teams ranked higher than the men in the region, while Minnesota and Iowa are also ranked highly in the Midwest Region. 

The Hoosiers are led by junior Rikkoi Brathwaite, who has yet to lose in the 60-meter this season, winning all four of his races in the event. 

Brathwaite, who finished second in the 60-meter at last year’s indoor championships, is tied for the seventh-fastest 60-meter time in the country this season at 6.63 seconds.  

Senior Cooper Williams is the only other Hoosier to win each of his events in a category this season. Williams is 4-for-4 in the 800-meter this season, and his best time of 1:48.09 ranks seventh in the NCAA. 

On the women’s side, a young IU team looks to build on a fourth place finish in last year’s indoor championships as the underdog. 

“While Minnesota appears to be the clear women’s favorite, I’m optimistic our women will keep it close and finish in the top three once everything is said and done,” Helmer said. 

The women are ranked first in the Great Lakes Region and second in the Big Ten, but the Golden Gophers are ranked 23rd in the country and first in the conference. 

Nonetheless, the IU women have serious star power, starting with junior Bailey Hertenstein. The All-American has won a 3,000-meter race and the mile this season, and she has taken third in the 800-meter at the Simmons-Harvey Invitational in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  

The IU women’s team is particularly strong in the field, with two standouts in both the shot put and weight throw. 

Senior Princess Brinkley has three first-place and two second-place finishes in five weight throw competitions this season. Her season-best distance of 20.81 meters ranks 18th nationally this season. 

Senior Maddy Pollard has excelled in the shot put, putting together three second-place finishes in the shot put in as many tries this season Her season-best 17.22 meters is the sixth-best mark in the country this year. 

Neither the men nor women are considered the favorites going into the Big Ten Indoor Championships, but both teams have a chance to win or place highly. 

The Big Ten Indoor Championships will begin at 10 a.m. Thursday at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio.

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