Indiana Daily Student

IU track and field begins outdoor season Friday in Bloomington

<p>Jalen Royal and his teammates prepare to compete in the 400-meter run on Jan. 5, 2019, in Gladstein Fieldhouse. The Hoosiers will compete in the first outdoor meet of the season on March 26 and 27 at the Robert C. Haugh Complex in Bloomington.</p>

Jalen Royal and his teammates prepare to compete in the 400-meter run on Jan. 5, 2019, in Gladstein Fieldhouse. The Hoosiers will compete in the first outdoor meet of the season on March 26 and 27 at the Robert C. Haugh Complex in Bloomington.

The last time IU outdoor track and field competed in official competition was June 2019 at the 2019 NCAA Championships. Now, 656 days later, the team will compete in its first meet of the season, at home at the Robert C. Haugh Track & Field Complex.

The Hoosiers will open their season Friday in the Big Ten Indiana Invite No. 1 in Bloomington. They’ll host many of the other Big Ten teams, including Purdue, Michigan, Illinois, Northwestern, Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa and Michigan State. 

Although no official rankings have been released from the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Association, IU placed sixth on the website’s mid-season program of the year watchlist, and both the men and the women were in the top 25 for the indoor season. 

The Hoosiers sent five individual runners and a relay team to the 2021 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships from April 12-13. They were led by junior Rikkoi Brathwaite, the 2021 Big Ten Track Athlete of the Year. 

Competing in the 60 meter, Brathwaite won every conference race he participated in and was eventually crowned the Big Ten Champion in the 60 meter. In the championships, Brathwaite broke his own school record with a time of 5.56. 

Seniors Cooper Williams and Ben Veatch also earned spots in the NCAA Indoor Championships. Both were Big Ten champions, with Veatch taking home a double title in the 3000-meter and the 5000-meter. Williams, who placed highly in the 600-meter all season, earned a time of 1:16.68 in the championships to take first. 

The success of the team in the indoor season is important to head coach Ron Helmer, who said he sees the team being competitive on the national level in the outdoor season. 

However, the success of the team in the indoor season isn’t the only cause for optimism moving forward. IU will gain reinforcements in the form of eight seniors who received an extra year of eligibility because they were unable to compete last year due to cancelation of the 2020 outdoor season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the returnees are Adam Coulon, last year’s Big Ten Field Athlete of the Year in the indoor season for the pole vault, and Khayla Dawson, who earned All-American honors last season in the throws competition. 

In addition to Coulon and Dawson, Kyle Mau will return to the track to run the 5000 meter, a race he took eighth place in the 2019 NCAA Outdoor Championships. In the field, Leah Moran will likely make a big impact for the women’s team, as a two-time Big Ten champion in the long jump and triple jump, respectively. 

The Hoosiers will also get Kelsey Harris back on the women’s side, an indoor All-American who advanced to the 800-meter semifinals in the 2019 NCAA Outdoor Championships. For the men, Treyton Harris should provide a spark in the field, placing third in the most recent Big Ten Championships and holds the school record in the long jump at 7.65 meters. 

Rounding out the group of seniors are Mallory Multzer and Joely Pinkston, two mid-distance runners that have top ten Big Ten Championships finishes on their resume.

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