2011 BIG EAST Indoor Track and Field Championships Preview

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - With the regular season finished, BIG EAST teams travel to the Stile Athletics Field House in Akron, Ohio, for the 2011 BIG EAST Indoor Track and Field Championships Feb. 19-20. The BIG EAST Championships consist of 15 teams on the women's side and 12 on the men's side. Last season, the Villanova women won their first team title in 10 years, while Notre Dame claimed its third title in program history on the men's side. Entering the championships, only one women's team is ranked in the USTFCCCA top 25, as Connecticut comes in at No. 19. The BIG EAST provide free live streaming of the 2011 Indoor Track and Field Championships. Live results will also be available throughout the meet. Here is an event-by-event preview for the 2011 BIG EAST Championships. Men 60-meter dash: With the graduation of Syracuse's Michael LeBlanc, a two-time BIG EAST 60-meter dash champion, there is room for another athlete to take the top spot. Entering the meet, Connecticut junior Kevin Steinberg owns the best time in the conference, registering a 6.73 at the Yale Collegiate Invitational on Jan. 15. The time was a Connecticut school record. The next closest runner is USF's Derrick Hopkins with a time of 6.82. Hopkins placed fourth in the event in 2010. A total of 19 BIG EAST athletes qualified for the 60-meter dash at the championship. 200-meter dash: Steinberg also sits atop the BIG EAST performance list in the 200-meter dash with a time of 21.89, leading a crowd of 27 qualifiers for the championship. He placed third in the event in 2010. USF has a pair of runners in the No. 2 and No. 3 spots, with senior Greg Fontus ranked second with a time of 21.91 and Hopkins ranked third at 21.95. Fontus was a sixth-place finisher in 2010. 400-meter dash: Two of the top four runners from the 2010 400-meter dash return this year, including Georgetown junior Austin Perron and DePaul sophomore Tonderai Tomu. Perron ranks eighth in the conference this season with a time of 48.67, while Tomu ranks fourth with a time of 48.30. Rutgers junior Aaron Younger owns the top time in the BIG EAST this season at 47.50. 500-meter dash: Younger returns to defend his title in the 500-meter dash. The Rutgers junior enters the meet with the top time in the conference this season at 1:02.23. The second-place finisher from 2010, Georgetown junior Toby Ulm, also returns to the field and ranks fifth in the conference with a time of 1:03.58. The two highlight a field of 25 competitors, including Villanova standout freshman Samuel Ellison, who ranks second this season in the event with a time of 1:02.76. 800-meter run: Two-time BIG EAST Track Athlete of the Week, Notre Dame sophomore Jeremy Rae, leads a 30-man field in the 800-meter run. Rae owns the top time in the conference of 1:49.15, set at the Indiana University State Relays on Jan. 28. Rae looks to become the second-straight Irish runner to win the event after Jack Howard took the title in 2010. The 2009 event champion, Connecticut senior Michael Rutt, looks to return to that top spot after not competing in the finals in 2010. Rutt sits second in the league with an NCAA-qualifying time of 1:49.16. Georgetown's Ulm ranks third with a time of 1:49.81. 1,000-meter run: Notre Dame's Rae also holds the first spot in the conference this season in the 1,000-meter run. Rae ran a time of 2:22.53 at the Notre Dame Invitational. The 2010 1,000-meter champion, Notre Dame junior Jonathan Shawel, returns to the field. He has the 19th-fastest time in the conference this season at 2:27.08. The Irish have three runners in the top five of the performance list this season, with junior Jordan Carlson ranked third and senior Kevin Labus at fifth. Villanova senior Brian Tetrault is No. 2 in the conference with a time of 2:23.74. Mile: Three runners with sub four-minute mile times highlight the 2011 field. Two-time champion, Villanova senior Matthew Gibney, looks for a three-peat in the event and holds the top time in the BIG EAST this season at 3:58.12. Gibney and Providence junior Julian Matthews have both qualified for the 2011 NCAA Championships. Matthews ranks second in the league with a time of 3:58.57. Notre Dame's Rae ranks third and leads a trio of Irish runners in the top six with a time of 3:59.62. Another Friar, junior David McCarthy, ranks fourth with a time of 4:00.74. A total of 55 athletes will compete in the mile. 3,000-meter run: With the graduation of 2010 3,000-meter run champion and BIG EAST Championship Most Outstanding Performer Matt Bruce, Providence junior David McCarthy looks to reclaim the title that he won in 2009. McCarthy is the lone BIG EAST athlete to qualify for the NCAA Championship in the event, holding the top time in the conference at 7:53.33. After McCarthy, Villanova owns the second, third and fourth spots on the BIG EAST performance list. Sophomore Matthew Mildenhall leads the pack of Wildcats with a time of 7:57.40. He was a second-place finisher in the even in 2010, while junior Hugo Beamish grabbed third. Syracuse junior Tito Medrano ranks eighth in the conference after running a personal-best time of 8:12.85 at the BU Valentine Invitational. 5,000-meter run: The Wildcat theme continues in the 5,000-meter run. Beamish and senior Brian Long rank first and second in the event, respectively, in the conference this season. Marquette junior Nick Szczech is in third-pace in the conference after setting a school record in the event with a time of 14:17.52. He finished 13th in 2010 and is one of the few event veterans returning this year. Notre Dame senior Dan Jackson, who finished 8th last season, ranks fourth in the league this season with a time of 14:20.83. 60-meter hurdles: Georgetown senior Chris Kinney looks for back-to-back 60-meter hurdle titles after winning the even in 2010. Kinney set the Georgetown school record at the 2011 New Balance Collegiate Invitational with a time of 7.75. He holds the top time in the conference, ahead of USF junior David Aristil who ran a 7.79 at the Sykes & Sabock Challenge. Aristil finished fifth in the event in 2010. Pittsburgh sophomore Tashaun Hill tries to improve on a fourth-place finish as a freshman in 2010, as he ranks third in the conference with a season-best time of 8.00. Syracuse junior Matthew Callanan ran a personal-best time of 8.10 at the Penn State National and sits in fifth-place in the conference. 4x400-meter relay: Entering the championship, Pittsburgh has the top time in the 4x400-meter relay at 3:13.97. The team consists of junior Micah Murray, senior Antony Hobwana, junior Jerome Lowery and freshman Reginald Steele. The winning time at the 2010 championship was 3:11.35, posted by Seton Hall. Villanova sits in second this season while Notre Dame is third. Rutgers was the runner-up last year and sits fourth this season with a time of 3:15.58. 4x800-meter relay: Villanova is in search for its fourth-straight title in the 4x800-meter relay. The squad has yet to compete in the event this season, but recorded a time of 7:31.00 in 2010. Pittsburgh holds the top time in the league this season at 7:31.71. Connecticut's 4x800 meter relay team of Dan Holst, Alex Bennatan, Tim Bennatan and Mike Rutt was invited to run at the Millrose Games, placing second with an IC4A-qualifying time of 7:36.38. Distance medley relay: Villanova has won two of the last three distance medley relay titles. The team registered a time of 9:47.60 to win the title in 2010. Georgetown has this season's top mark, notching a time of 9:56.78 as the only BIG EAST team to break the 10-minute mark this season. High jump: Louisville holds two of the best jumps in the BIG EAST, with sophomore Michael Edwards sitting first and senior Neil Angermeier ranking second. Edwards cleared a height of 2.19 meters at the Rod McCravy Memorial Meet, the 15th-best jump in the nation this season. Agermeier is tied in second with Connecticut sophomore Noel James at 2.15 meters. A total of 13 athletes will compete in the event at the championship. Pole vault: Notre Dame junior Kevin Schipper looks to continue the family dominance of the pole vault as he looks for back-to-back titles. His brother, Matt Schipper, won the event the two years prior in 2007 and 2008. Kevin Schipper has the top performance in the league this season at 5.20 meters. Connecticut has two athletes in the top four, with junior Kyle Duggan ranking second with a height of 5.15 meters and sophomore Jesse Chapman fourth at 4.95 meters. The 2010 runner-up, Louisville senior Kyle Gann, returns for another shot at the title. Long jump: Louisville lays claim to each of the last five long jump champions, and looks in position to take a sixth straight with the top two jumpers in the conference this season. Junior Wesley Smith has the top performance in the league with a distance of 7.82 meters, while junior Seon Powell is second with 7.54 meters. Smith finished third in 2010. Connecticut junior Aaron King ranks third with a jump of 7.44 meters. Triple jump: Rutgers freshman Devin Jones tries to be the first Scarlet Knight to win the triple jump title since 2005. He is tied for the top spot in the league with USF freshman Shane Lewis with a distance of 15.37 meters. USF has not had a triple jump champion since joining the BIG EAST. Shot put: Two of the top three competitors from 2010 return to toss the shot put this year. The 2010 champion, Louisville senior Weston Banks, has the third-best throw in the league this year at 17.85 meters. DePaul junior Tim Nedow leads the pack with a toss of 19.18 meters. He finished third at the championship in 2010. Weight throw: After breaking the school record at the 2011 New Balance Collegiate Invitational, Syracuse senior Kwaku Boah leads the conference with a season-best weight throw of 19.93 meters. Boah attempts to become the first SU athlete to win the weight throw since Steve Dering in 1991. Heptathlon: Notre Dame senior Justin Schneider and Connecticut junior Aaron King have accounted for the last three heptathlon champions and both will compete for the title this year. King won the event in 2008 and 2009, setting the meet record in 2009 with 5,460 points. Schneider stopped King from a third-straight title, winning the event with 5,339 points in 2010. Schneider sits atop the BIG EAST performance list this season with 5,497 points while King is second with 5,413. Women 60-meter dash: Connecticut senior Trisha-Ann Hawthorne leads a pack of 35 athletes in the 60-meter dash. Hawthorne has won the event the last two years, while Connecticut has claimed four of the last five 60-meter dash titles. She owns the top performance in the league at 7.28, which also ranks ninth in the country. Hawthorne, who will also be competing in the 200-meter dash, looks to become the second athlete to win two events three times in BIG EAST women's history. Louisville senior Saravia Richardson, who ranks second in the conference with a time of 7.37, finished second in the event in 2010. 200-meter dash: Hawthorne also returns as a two-time champion in the 200-meter dash. The senior ranks first in the BIG EAST this season with a time of 23.94. Pittsburgh senior Da'Lynn Mills looks to improve on a fourth-place finish a year ago, as she ranks second in the conference with a time of 23.96 this season. Pitt junior Cambrya Jones joins Mills in the top four on the performance list with a time of 24.10. Georgetown sophomore Amanda Kimbers ranks third in the league with a time of 24.00. 400-meter dash: Georgetown owns two of the top three spots on the BIG EAST performance list in the 400-meter dash. Junior London Finley ranks first of the 29 BIG EAST qualifiers in the event with a time of 55.46. Teammate and senior Deidra Sanders is third with a time of 56.01. The two look to become the first Georgetown runners to win the event in the history of the championship. Just three of the top nine finishers from last year return to the field, including Villanova junior Christie Verdier (third), Cincinnati junior Aricka Rhodes (seventh) and DePaul sophomore Lindsey Holden (ninth). 500-meter dash: Two of the top finishers from the 2010 championship will compete for the 2011 title in the 500-meter dash. Villanova senior Kristen Mahon, who finished third last season, ranks third in the conference this season with a time of 1:13.83. Georgetown's Finley also will compete after finishing fourth a year ago. Georgetown freshman Chelsea Cox is the conference's top performer with a time of 1:13.36, while Cincinnati junior Kathy Clump ranks second. 800-meter run: Connecticut junior Heather Wilson, a two-time BIG EAST Athlete of the Week, leads 30 BIG EAST qualifiers in the 800-meter run. Wilson, who finished sixth in the 800 in 2010, ranks first this season with a school-record time of 2:05.68, while teammate Brigitte Mania is second with a time of 2:08.24. The 2010 event champion, DePaul senior Mary Cate Quiett, returns to defend her title. She ranks 10th in the conference with a time of 2:11.60. 1,000-meter run: 2010 1,000-meter run champion, Villanova senior Sheila Reid, did not compete in the event this season. That leaves an open field to compete for the title this year, led by Georgetown sophomore Rachel Schneider. Schneider finished fourth in the event in 2010 and owns the top spot this season with a time of 2:45.51. The top three performances this year also includes West Virginia junior Kaylyn Christopher and Connecticut's Wilson. Mile: The 2010 BIG EAST and NCAA Cross Country champion, Villanova's Reid tries to repeat as the mile champion this season. The senior led a 1-2 Wildcat finish last season, and holds the conference's top time this year at 4:41.14. Syracuse sophomore Lauren Penney, a fourth-place finisher a year ago, sits second in the conference with at time of 4:41.34. A pair of West Virginia runners -Christopher and junior Jessica O'Connell- rounds out the top four performances. A Villanova runner has won the event in four of the past six years. 3,000-meter run: Villanova's Reid also owns the top conference time in the 3,000-meter run. Reid's time of 8:56.92 ranks second in the country and qualifies her for the NCAA Championships. She looks to make it back-to-back 3,000-meter champions from Villanova after Alison Smith won the event in 2010. The Wildcats have claimed the winner in the 3,000-meter run in 14 of the 28 years of the championship. Providence sophomore Shelby Greany, who placed second in the event in 2010, ranks second in the conference this season with a time of 9:14.06. Both Providence and Villanova have two runners in the top five of the BIG EAST performance list, with Syracuse's Lauren Penney sits at third. 5,000-meter run: Providence's Greany enters the 2011 championship with the No. 1 ranking in the conference in the 5,000-meter run. Greany's time of 16:10.52 also places her 15th in the nation, as she looks to become the first Friar to win the event since Aine Hoban in 2007. West Virginia boasts the top returning finisher from 2010 in junior Sarah-Anne Brault, who claimed sixth in the event in 2010. Georgetown looks for a strong performance from freshman Emily Jones, who is currently second in the conference with a time of 16:17.38. 60-meter hurdles: West Virginia senior Chelsea Carrier looks to become the first back-to-back BIG EAST champion in the 60-meter hurdles since Villanova's Charmaine Walker in 2000-2001, as she enters the meet with the conference's top performance this season. Carrier ranks 12th nationally with a school-record time of 8.21. The 2010 runner-up, Villanova junior Shericka Ward, also returns to the field with the second-best time in the conference this season at 8.27. Georgetown's Finley, who ranks fifth in the conference with a time of 8.55, finished seventh a year ago. Pittsburgh senior Brianna Broyles sits third in the conference with a time of 8.32. 4x400-meter relay: The Georgetown Hoyas are coming off a second-place finish in the 4x400-meter relay in 2010 and hold the top time in the conference this season at 3:42.09. The Hoyas last won the event in 2005 as Seton Hall had won the title each of the last four years. Pittsburgh has the second-fastest time in the conference at 3:43.58, while Cincinnati is third with a time of 3:44.30. 4x800-meter relay: Villanova set the BIG EAST Championship record in the 4x800-meter relay in 2010 and looks to repeat as champions in the event. The Wildcats have the fifth-best time in the conference this year at 9:04.81, while Connecticut ranks first with a time of 8:52.35. Georgetown, which had won the event in 2008 and 2009, looks to return to the top of the podium this year. The Hoyas sit second in the conference this year with a time of 8:53.36. Distance medley relay: Georgetown has won five of the last seven distance medley relay titles, but did not claim the top spot in 2010. That went to Villanova, which set the meet record with a time of 11:11.00. The Wildcats have yet to run the event this season, while Connecticut owns the No. 1 spot in the conference with a time of 11:11.93. Georgetown is second in the league with a time of 11:14.00. High jump: Two-time BIG EAST Field Athlete of the Week, St. John's senior Priscilla Frederick, enters the 2011 championship as the top-high jumper in the conference. Frederick's season-best jump of 1.82 meters also ties her for eighth in the nation. There will be a new champion in the event this year following the graduation of Connecticut's Carin Knight, who had won the event each of the last three years. Frederick is the top returning finisher from 2010 after placing fifth. Louisville junior Megan Shubert, who ranks third in the conference with a jump of 1.76 meters, placed eighth last year. Pole vault: Two of the top three pole vaulters in the conference will represent USF. Seniors Denise von Eynatten and Stephanie Duffy have both won BIG EAST championship individual titles in the event. Von Eynatten won in 2008, while Duffy took the first spot a year ago. Duffy currently ranks third in the conference with a height of 4.12 meters, while von Eynatten ranks first with a height of 4.27 meters. Cincinnati junior Mackenzie Fields owns the No. 2 spot at 4.21 meters, while Villanova senior Ashlyn Llerandi, who finished third last year, ranks fourth with a height of 4.00 meters. Long jump: Louisville junior Charachesicia Lockhart looks to follow in the footsteps of former teammate Rachel Gehret who won the long jump in 2010. Lockhart ranks first in the conference and 15th in the nation with a leap of 6.22 meters this season. USF sophomore Monique Williams is second this season with a jump of 6.09 meters. West Virginia's Carrier, who placed seventh a year ago, sits at third in the conference. Junior teammate Meghan Mock is the top returning performer after finishing sixth in 2010. Triple jump: Syracuse junior Ieva Staponkute tries to become the first Orange triple jumper to win the event since Sheron Mark in 2006. Staponkute ranks first in the conference entering the championship with a jump of 12.62 meters. She is followed by Louisville's Lockhart, who is second with a leap of 12.42 meters. USF's Williams is the top returning performer after placing fifth in 2010. Shot put: Both the shot put and weight throw events are led by Louisville. Sophomore Khadija Abdullah leads three Cardinals in the top four of the BIG EAST performance list with an NCAA-qualifying toss of 16.96 meters. Abdullah ranks first in the conference, while seniors D'Ana McCarty and Chinwe Okoro are second and third respectively. Louisville's Jere' Summers was the 2010 champion, while Okoro placed second and McCarty was fourth. Connecticut junior Victoria Flowers ranks third in the conference with a toss of 15.77 meters. She finished eighth at the championship in 2010. Weight throw: Louisville's McCarty looks for her third-straight title in the in the weight throw after winning in both 2009 and 2010. McCarty, a two-time NCAA indoor champion, set the meet record with a toss of 22.56 meters last year, and currently sits first in the conference with an NCAA-qualifying mark of 22.21 meters. Connecticut's Flowers is second in the conference with a distance of 20.59 meters, while USF junior Lauren Noe is third with a toss of 18.96 meters. Pentathlon: St. John's Frederick holds the top spot in the pentathlon with 3,612 points entering the championship. She will try to become the first Red Storm athlete to win the indoor pentathlon in the history of the BIG EAST Championship. West Virginia's Carrier has yet to compete in the pentathlon this season, but will return to defend her 2010 title. Syracuse junior Kelsey Rubeor ranks second this season with 3,563 points. She finished eighth a year ago while Frederick finished fifth.