Huskers Open Big Ten Championships with Four Titles
Lincoln, Neb.- The Nebraska track and field team came out firing on the first day of the Big Ten Indoor Championships with four of individual titles. The Huskers saw Ashley Miller take home the women's 3,000 meters crown, Breanna Bussel notch the women's pole vault title, Luke Pinkelman earn the shot put title and Chris Phipps come away with the long jump crown.
In the team races, the Husker women hold a 45.5-35 lead over Wisconsin, and the Husker men lead the Wisconsin men 45-32.
Miller rewrote the Husker record books on Friday en route to winning the 2012 Big Ten 3,000 meters. Miller posted a personal-best time of 9:17.28 to edge out the first-place finish. With the time, Miller now sits in first among top 3,000 meter performances at Nebraska. The top spot was previously held by Fran ten Bensel, who notched a mark of 9:17.87 in 1992.
"I know I have a lot of confidence in my finished and I just went for it," Miller said. "The whole crowd really pushed me. I could feel the energy pick up, I knew she was right on my tail. I didn't want to disappoint my home crowd, which really kept me going."
Bussel made a name for herself on the first day of competition, becoming the Huskers' first Big Ten Track and Field Champion as she took first in the pole vault. Bussel used an exhilarating performance to take first with a personal-best vault of 13-10 1/2 (4.23). With the victory, Bussel earned her first conference crown.
"It's pretty exciting, I never expected to win," Bussel said. "Coming into today I actually thought it was a possibility, which was the first time that has ever happened. It was just really exciting that it actually happened. I think last week when I jumped on Friday I actually finally got things together. I hit a personal best last week and hit 13-6, so I knew 13-10 was possible and that was what I was shooting for. I just came in knowing I could do it and it was pretty easy."
Pinkelman added Big Ten Champion to his list of accomplishments, taking top honors in the shot put. With a throw of 63-9 (19.43), Pinkelman became a back-to-back conference champion as he was the Big 12 champion in 2011. With the win, Pinkelman remains undefeated on the season. In addition, Tyler Hitchler finished sixth, notching a throw of 59-1 1/4 (18.01), while Chad Wright finished seventh (58-6 3/4).
Phipps earned the Big Ten title in the long jump, taking down his competition with a leap of 25-4 1/2 (7.73). The six-time All-American took home his first indoor conference title. Patrick Raedler finished second behind Phipps, posting a jump of 25-1 1/4 (7.65), while Seth Wiedel came in fourth with a mark of 24-7 (7.49).
In the multi-events the women wrapped up the pentathlon as Anne Martin finished sixth in the standings with a total point total of 3,860. Martin recorded personal bests in the 60-meter hurdles (8.81) and the 800 meters (2:23.26). Jordan Stiens followed her lead with an eighth-place finish and a personal-best total of 3,827 points. She recorded personal-best marks of 8.56 in the 60-meter hurdles and 5-3 1/4 (1.61) in the high jump. Wisconsin swept the women's pentathlon, with Dorcas Akinniyi claiming the Big Ten title with a total of 4,072 points.
Nate Polacek finished third in the men's pole vault, recording a vault of 17-1 1/2 (5.22). Heath Nickels of Ohio State finished first with a mark of 17-5 1/2 (5.32), while Jack Szmanda of Minnesota finished second.
With the first four events of the heptathlon complete, Wisconsin's Japeth Cato leads the pack with a total of 3,281 points. Nebraska's Bjorn Barrefors finished the day in fourth-place with 3,145 points. Teran Walford totaled 2,728 points after the first day of competition, finished with a personal-best mark of 40-3 1/4 (12.27) in the shot put.
The Huskers will be back at the Devaney Center tomorrow for the second and final day of the conference indoor championships. The men's heptathletes will open the day at 10 a.m. with the 60-meter hurdles, while the first field event will be the women's high jump at 111 a.m. and the women's 5,000 meters will be the first running event at 12:30 p.m. Live results and more information can be found at Huskers.com.