Track & Field Prepares for ISU Classic

MUTIGERS.COM <i>Shannon Leinert is one of two Tigers that have automatically qualified for the NCAA Championships this season.</i>
MUTIGERS.COM
Shannon Leinert is one of two Tigers that have automatically qualified for the NCAA Championships this season.
MUTIGERS.COM

Feb. 9, 2010

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ISU Classic Live Blog

Meet Info: The ISU Classic
Date: Feb. 11-13
Time: Thursday: 12:30p.m., Friday: 9 a.m., Saturday: 9:30 a.m.
Location: Ames, Iowa
Arena: Lied Recreation Center Center
Live Stats: MUTigers.com or Cyclones.com
Live Blog: MUTigers.com

This Weekend
The Mizzou track and field program will travel to Ames, Iowa, for the Iowa State Classic, Mizzou's second of three scheduled meets at Iowa State during the indoor season. The meet is a three-day competition that will start with the combined events on Thursday and culminate with the final track and field events on Saturday. The meet will also give the Tigers their second chance to compete in the facility in which the 2010 Big 12 Indoor Championships will be held later this month. The Tigers also competed at the Lied Recreation Center two weeks ago as part of the inaugural Bill Bergan Invitational.

About the Meet
Nine men's teams and six women's teams ranked in the top 50 nationally will be competing this weekend at the ISU Classic. The men's side will boast fifth-ranked Florida and sixth-ranked Nebraska while the women will be competing with ninth-ranked Florida and 15th-ranked Oklahoma, making this one of the most talented fields at a meet during the indoor season.

Several athletes that will be featured at the meet rank first in the country in their respective events at the ISU Classic. On the men's side, Florida's Christian Taylor ranks first in the triple jump, while 2010 Bowerman finalist Ronnie Ash of Oklahoma ranks first in the 60-meter hurdles. The top women competing include Minnesota's Alicia Rue in the pole vault and Florida's Mariam Kevkhishvilli in the shot put.

Colorado, Kansas, Kansas State, Nebraska, Missouri and Oklahoma will all represent the Big 12 Conference at the meet.

Competition will begin Thursday with Flotrack.org and Runnersspace.com providing onsite live footage from the ISU Classic. Live results will be posted on MUTigers.com along with the Mizzou track and field live blog.

Last Time Out
Mizzou had a fine meet at the Meyo Invitational, hosted by the University of Notre Dame, last weekend. The highlight of the meet for the Tigers was senior Shannon Leinert, who ran the nation's second-fastest 800m time at 2:04.32 en-route to claiming the event title and automatically qualifying for the NCAA Championships. Leinert's time also ranks her second on Mizzou's all-time 800m indoor performance list.

Three additional Tigers added their names to the list of provisional qualifiers at the Meyo, including both Aaron Dixon and Rick Scheff, who, like Leinert, qualified in the 800m run. Dixon ran a time a 1:49.90 - which ranks 15th in the nation this season - while Scheff was clocked at 1:50.44. The times are personal-bests for both runners as well. Senior sprinter Lana Mims was the other Tiger to qualify for the championships as she posted a career-best time of 54.62 in the 400m dash.

Mizzou also received strong showings from Ryan Blackwell, Layne Moore, Laura Roxberg, Katie Evans, Clifton Leake, Jerron Forte, Michael Barrows, Nick Adcock, Andy Oaker, Corey Jones and Chris Holly as each of them finished in the top 10 in their respective events at the meet.

What to Watch For This Weekend
Some of the nation's elite competition will be on hand during the meet, along with seven teams from the Big 12 Conference, making this weekend's meet somewhat of a preview for the Big 12 Championships, which will also be held at Iowa State. Nebraska enters the meet as one of the league's top-ranked teams as its men rank sixth in the nation while the women come in ranked 13th. This will be the third time this season that Mizzou will square off against Nebraska at the same meet.

The men's 800m run will be a race to keep an eye on this weekend as Mizzou will pit some of its top runners against some of the nation's and league's elite 800m runners. Aaron Dixon, Rick Scheff and Blake Irwin all rank in the Big 12's top 10 and the nation's top 30 in the event this season as they prepare for one of the most competitive fields at the event.

Leinert will also headline a star-studded women's 800m field. She is the only Big 12 runner to rank in the nation's top 20 in the event, but much like last week, the Iowa State Classic should feature one of the strongest women's 800m fields in the country this weekend.

The shot put will also feature some of the top throwers in the nation this weekend. Andy Oaker has already provisionally qualified for the NCAA Championships while freshmen Corey Jones and Katie Evans have come close on several occasions. Both will look to add their names to the list of qualifiers this weekend.

Finally, senior Nick Adcock nearly broke his own school record in the heptathlon at the Bill Bergan Combined events two weeks ago, in the same facility that he will be competing in this weekend. His point total of 5,758 is currently the second-best mark in the nation this season and he is one of only four athletes in the nation to automatically qualify for the championships. After posting three personal-bests and a school record the last time that he was in Iowa State, Adcock is definitely someone to watch this weekend,

Automatic for Adcock and Leinert
Both Nick Adcock and Shannon Leinert sit atop the Big 12 Conference in their respective events and have already booked a trip to Fayetteville, Ark., for the 2010 NCAA Championships with automatic marks in their respective events. In fact, both rank second in the nation in their respective events. Adcock trails only Oregon's Ashton Eaton in the heptathlon while Leinert comes in behind only Tennessee's Phoebe Wright. Missouri joins Texas A&M as the only two school's in the Big 12 to automatically qualify at least one women and one man for the NCAA Championships so far this season.

Provisional for Four Others
Additionally, four other Tigers have met the NCAA provisional qualifying standards in their respective events this season, three on the men's side and one for the women. Both Aaron Dixon and Rick Scheff qualified in the men's 800m run last week while shot putter Andy Oaker has also provisionally qualified. Dixon is ranked No. 15 nationally while Oaker comes in at 24th overall. Scheff is ranked No. 33 nationally.

On the women's side, sprinter Lana Mims also posted an NCAA provisional time in the 400m dash last weekend at the Meyo Invitational. She clocked a personal-best time of 54.62 in the event to earn sixth overall.

Tigers Dominate the Middle Distance
Mizzou has certainly made its mark in the middle distance events so far this season. Aside from all of the success in the 800m run, Mizzou has seen plenty of fine performances from 600-yards all the way to the mile run. Aaron Dixon holds the Big 12's top 1,000m run mark this season while both Layne Moore (fouth) and Laura Roxberg (sixth) rank in the top 10 in the event on the women's side.

In the 600-yard run, both Shannon Lienert and Leslie Farmer rank in the Big 12's top four, highlighted by Leinert who owns the league's best time in the event. Ryan Blackwell and Chris Davis both rank in the league's top 12 in the event as well.

Seniors Michael Barrows and Angela Potrykus each rank in the top 11 in the Big 12 in the mile this season as well and both set season-best times at last week's Meyo Invitational. Potrykus shaved nearly nine seconds off of her career-best time last week as she clocked in at 4:51.92 while Barrows was paced at 4:08.03.

Dixon Dazzles
Junior Aaron Dixon had one of the best performances of his career at the Adidas Classic, running the program's second-best 1,000m time en-route to earning the event title. Dixon clocked in at a Big 12-best 2:22.38, just behind the 29-year-old school record of 2:21.91, set by Scott Clark back in 1981. His time was just ahead of Jeff Pigg, who earned a 2:22.98 clocking back in 1985. Dixon in the only Mizzou athlete to break 2:23.00 in the event over the last quarter of a century. The time is nearly two seconds better than his previous personal-best in the event.

McGuire's Swan Song
After 27 years as the Head Track and Field Coach at the University of Missouri, Dr. Rick McGuire announced his intention to retire from that position following the completion of the 2010 outdoor season, with his final day in the role scheduled for July 30th.

To date, Coach McGuire has led Missouri athletes to 137 All-American honors, 106 individual conference championships, seven NCAA individual or relay titles and eight NCAA Regional Championships. Beyond the NCAA season, McGuire has coached 46 Olympic Trials qualifiers and 27 USA National Team berths, even coaching four athletes to the pinnacle of athletic competition: the Olympic Games. Both Natasha Kaiser-Brown and Christian Cantwell went on to win Olympic silver medals. Cantwell has also won three world championships.

A hallmark of McGuire's program has been an emphasis on academic achievement, as evidenced by his team's long-standing presence on the USTFCCCA All-Academic list. The women's team has earned this status for 44 consecutive seasons, starting at the inception of the award in 1994. The men are now at 22 consecutive seasons. Individually, hundreds of his athletes have earned All-Academic honors. Under McGuire, Missouri track and field student-athletes have been awarded 22 NCAA Post Graduate scholarships at the conclusion of their undergraduate studies.

McGuire is recognized as a significant leader in the world of track and field, both at the collegiate level and beyond. He recently finished serving a three-year term as president of the NCAA Division I Track and Field Coaches Association, and prior to that served for four years on the NCAA Track and Field Committee. He was chosen as a member of the United States Olympic Team staff for both the 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games. He founded and for 28 years has served as the chair of the USATF Sport Psychology program. He has been honored by his peers with his induction into the Drake Relays Hall of Fame and the Missouri Track and Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

Dr. McGuire has also served for 25 years as a Graduate Professor of Sport Psychology in the University's nationally prominent Department of Educational, School and Counseling Psychology. He began both the Master's and Doctoral programs in Sport Psychology. Today Missouri's graduate program in Applied Sport Psychology is considered one of the leading programs in the nation. It is McGuire's intention to continue in his academic and teaching role, as well as contributing sport psychology support for the athletes, teams, coaches and staff in Missouri's Department of Intercollegiate Athletics.

Longtime assistant and current associate head coach Brett Halter has been named interim head coach and will work closely with Coach McGuire in this transition. Coach Halter has earned the distinction as one of the world's finest coaches of throws. His athletes are consistently among the NCAA and Big 12 Conference leaders. He is the coach of former Tiger Christian Cantwell, the reigning World Champion and Olympic Silver Medalist in the shot put.

Tiger Academic Success
The Mizzou track and field/cross country program was honored by the US Track and Field/Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) for its academic success over the past calendar year. Both the men's and women's cross country teams were honored as All-Academic teams as fall grades have been announced. The women's cross country team earned a term grade-point-average of 3.467, earning the 44th-straight All-Academic honor for the Mizzou track and field/cross country program, doing so in every semester since the inception of the award 16 seasons ago. Mizzou is the only program in the nation to have accomplished that feat. The Tiger men's cross country team finished the fall semester with a term GPA of 3.06, earning the All-Academic award as well.

Two members of the women's cross country team - Shannon Leinert and Kaitie Vanatta - earned a perfect 4.00 GPA during the fall 2009 semester, while Phillip King brought home a perfect GPA for the men's team.

The success during the fall semester for the program did not stop with the cross country student-athletes. In all, the women's track and field team compiled a cumulative GPA of 3.289 and four others - Cortni Ervin, Leslie Farmer, Laura Greenfield and Katie Vanarsdall - all joined Leinert and Vanatta with perfect GPAs. The term GPA of 3.289 means that the women's program will garner its 45th-straight All-Academic team honor from the USTFCCCA when those are announced after the outdoor track and field season.

In all, 18 of the 40 women's track and field team members finished with a GPA better than 3.50 and 30 of the 40 women's track and field student-athletes finished with a GPA better than 3.00.

Follow Mizzou Track & Field's Blog!
The 2010 Mizzou track and field season will not only offer some of the most exciting competition, but it will also provide some of the best ways for fans to follow their team. MUTigers.com has developed a blog in order to keep fans in the loop about everything regarding Mizzou athletics. Each sport will have its own official blog so fans can stay current with each program. The track and field blog can be found here: http://www.mutigers.com/blog/track-field/.

The live blog will be back this weekend in hopes of providing event-by-event results and a interactive experience for any fans that cannot be in attendance at the meet.

Next Up
After four-straight weeks on the road, Mizzou will return home for a pair of home meets on Feb. 19 and Feb. 20. First, Mizzou will host the Collegiate Challenge on the 19th and then play host to the Missouri All-Comers meet the following day, making for a busy weekend inside the Hearnes Center Field House. The Collegiate Challenge will begin at 2 p.m. on Friday while the All-Comers meet will begin at 8:30 the following day. Meet information for both can be found at MUTigers.com.

That weekend will be the Tigers' final tune-up before heading into the Big 12 Championships during the last weekend in February.

 

 

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