Indiana women’s track and field competed against the best of the Big Ten at the Big Ten Indoor Track and Field Championships this weekend in Geneva, Ohio. The team finished in ninth place overall with a final score of 33 points.
The Hoosiers were unable to secure points in most of the events, scoring in only nine of the 18 total events over the span of two days. Several Indiana athletes did not qualify for the finals of their respective events. Even though six Indiana runners competed in the preliminaries of the 400-meter dash and 800-meter run, none of them qualified for the finals.
“We needed people to perform a lot better than they did,” Indiana head coach Ron Helmer said. “I think we had some people that let us down and didn’t perform as well as they probably should have.”
Indiana had some absences from the Big Ten Championships, with experienced junior sprint runner Alyssa Robinson and other unnamed athletes unable to compete.
“We were missing a couple of people at the last minute,” Helmer said. “As you start to fill the gap with younger, more inexperienced people, at that level of competition it just doesn't get you very far.”
The Hoosiers saw a great portion of their success come in the shot put, with 8 points coming from the event. Freshman Jayden Ulrich brought in 5 points for Indiana by finishing in fourth place with a heave of 16.70 meters.
“It definitely brought out a more competitive side of me,” Ulrich said. “I really like going against such big competition, especially so early on.”
In the mile run preliminaries, three Indiana runners moved on to the finals. Junior Bailey Hertenstein finished in second place with a time of 4:43.88, senior Hannah Stoffel finished in seventh place with a time of 4:42.09 and sophomore Jenna Barker rounded out the mile run finals qualifiers with her time of 4:45.01.
In the mile run finals, Hertenstein led the pack through the first 1,200 meters but lost momentum during the final two laps. Despite finishing with a time better than her performance in the prelims — a time of 4:41.98 — Hertenstein finished in seventh place.
Stoffel followed closely behind in eighth with a time of 4:43.57 and Barker finished in tenth place with a time of 4:56.32.
In the women’s 600-meter run prelims, freshman Maria Anderson locked in her finals spot with a seventh-place finish through a time of 1:31.16.
Anderson improved on her time from the prelims and recorded a personal best in the finals of the 600-meter run with a time of 1:28.04.
“It’s hard to put it into words honestly,” Anderson said. “I feel like I’ve worked so hard to get here and it feels surreal.”
Sophomore Paola Fernandez-Sola had a solid outing in the women’s long jump, placing in fifth with a leap of 6.15 meters. Her effort gave Indiana 4 points toward the team’s final results.
In the women’s high jump, Mahogany Jenkins contributed 1 point to the team by clearing 1.75 meters on her final attempt for an eighth-place finish. Five Big Ten athletes, including Jenkins, were unable to clear the higher height of 1.78 meters in the same event.
Jenkins had a quick turnaround after the completion of the high jump and immediately competed in the triple jump after. She placed 15th with a height of 11.98 meters after fouling on her first two of three attempts.
In the women’s 3000-meter run, sophomore Sarah Schmitt finished in sixth place with a time of 9:14.70 to bring in 3 points for the Hoosiers. Schmitt also competed in the 5000-meter run, finishing in 10th place with a time of 16:33.89.
Indiana’s distance medley relay team, which consisted of Stoffel, Hertenstein, freshman Morgan Snow and senior Kelly Mindak, finished in fourth place with a time of 11:16.27. Stoffel gave Indiana an early lead, but a shaky baton handoff between Stoffel and Snow caused Indiana to lose ground they were unable to make up.
The women’s 4 x 400 relay consisted of Anderson, Snow, freshman Shynae Deas, and sophomore Kaylee Lane. The group finished in seventh place overall with a time of 3:40.98.
A select few athletes will compete for Indiana in the team’s next competition at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships on March 11-12 in Birmingham, Alabama.