April 11, 2012
COLUMBIA, Mo. - The Missouri Track & Field program will play host to DePaul, Illinois, Iowa, Loyola, and Missouri State women as it hosts the Tom Botts Invitational this Saturday. The field events kick off at 10:00 am while the running gets underway at 11:00 am.
Tom Botts, the University of Missouri's legendary coach who led the Tiger tracksters from 1947 to 1972, leaves an athletic legacy which includes the 1965 NCAA Indoor Track Championship, eight Big 8 Conference Titles, ninety-six Conference Champions, five National Champions, and two USA Olympians.
While his athletic resume is quite impressive, Botts is best known for his mentoring of young men. "He put your schooling and your life ahead of athletics," said Jean Madden, who ran under Botts. "Athletics were only a means to an end - a way to developing discipline, spirit and self-sacrifice."
In the spirit of Coach Botts, 6 teams will hit Audrey J. Walton Stadium along with Missouri on Saturday in a fierce, but friendly, scored competition. Saturday will also serve as the last full-team home event for many Tiger seniors, as they will be honored with Senior Day ceremonies near the conclusion of the meet. Below is an alphabetical team-by-team preview of the visitors competing at the Tom Botts Invitational.
DePaul: From the Big East Conference, the DePaul Blue Demons come south this weekend after a pair of strong runner-up finishes by both the men and women last weekend at the Chicagoland Championships. Like their neighbors from Loyola, the men of DePaul are led by a field event/distance athlete combination in multiple time NCAA qualifiers Tim Nedow and Matthew Graham. Nedow, who has dominated Big East competition in the shot put over the course of his career, comes into the weekend with lifetime best of 20.51 meters (67'3.5") in the shot put and 56.66 meters (185'11") in the discus. Graham comes into the weekend leading the Blue Demons in three events on the track. The steeplechase specialist will make his 2012 outdoor debut in the 1500 this weekend at Audrey J. Walton Stadium.
The duo of Alanna Kovacs and Melissa Fraser lead the Blue Demons ladies. The pair are scattered amongst the Big East in all four throwing events. A three-time Big East Javelin Throw Champion, Fraser currently finds herself ranked 2 nd in the NCAA with a personal best throw of 54.04 meters (177'3"). Kovacs sits right behind her teammate in the javelin, currently ranked 7 th in the nation with a toss of 51.75 meters (169'9").
Illinois: The Illinois Fighting Illini bring a balanced attack with them to Columbia this weekend. The men will feature plenty of firepower, finishing 13th at last months NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships. Leading the way is senior hurdler Andrew Riley. Riley's time of 13.52 in the 110 hurdles last weekend in Baton Rouge has him currently ranked 5 th in the NCAA. Riley is currently included in the "Honorable Mention" section of athletes to watch for on the Bowerman Watch List, honoring the nation's top track and field athlete. Fellow senior Kyle Engnell, currently holding the 3rd fastest mark in the NCAA this season at 8:47.27, was the top collegiate finisher in the steeplechase at this years Stanford Invitational. Adding depth for the Fighting Illini is sophomore Matthew Bane in the men's pole vault with a leap of 5.19 meters (17'.25"), freshman Davis Fraker in the hammer with best mark of 63.18 meters (207'3"), sprinter Stanley Azie in the 100 meters (10.39 season best), and the mid-distance duo of Ryan Lynn and Joe McAsey. Illinois men's 4x100 relay team currently finds itself in the top 20 in the NCAA after finishing 3 rd in a close battle with SEC powers LSU and Mississippi State last weekend.
The Illinois women boast a strong crew of sprinters as they make the trip south. Freshman Ashley Spencer currently ranks 4 th in the NCAA with a mark of 23.08 in the 200 meters. Spencer finished the 2012 indoor track & field season as an All-American with a 6 th
place finish in the event. The pair of Ashley Kelly (53.48) and Ryisha Boyd (53.74) are positioned in the nation's top 30 in the 400 meter dash. All 3 ladies, along with sophomore hurdler Breeana Coleman, make up the formidable 4x100 meter relay team, which also sits in the NCAA's top 20. Coleman faced some of the nation's best in the 100m hurdles last weekend at LSU's "Battle on the Bayou", finishing fifth in 13.48, a performance worth a top 25 spot amongst the NCAA. Illinois currently has three sub 14-second 100-meter hurdlers with Coleman, Jessica Ejesieme and Kawanna Brooks. The NCAA qualifying 4x400 currently sits 5 th in the land after bringing the baton across the line first last weekend at LSU. Sophomore pole-vaulter Stephanie Richartz leads the Fighting Illini in the field with a best mark of 4.07 meters (13'4.25").
Iowa: The Iowa Hawkeyes, the defending Men's Big 10 Outdoor Track & Field Champions, features one of the top men's teams in the country fresh off their 15th place finish at last months NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships in Boise, Idaho. The Hawkeyes will head south to Columbia with a USTFCCCA national team ranking of 18th. The Hawkeyes feature many of the nation's elite with the likes of 800 meter All-American Erik Sowinski, who is fresh off his 1:47.02 effort last weekend at LSU's "Battle of the Bayou". Sowinski currently ranks 4th in the NCAA in the event. In the field Iowa is led by senior All-American triple jumper Troy Doris, who's jump of 16.32 meters (53'6.5") currently sits him 3rd in the NCAA.
Other Hawkeye athletes to watch out for include senior high jumper Jeff Herron with a best leap of 2.24 meters (7'4.25"), junior thrower Matt Byers, who boasts a season best of 68.06 meters (223'3") in the javelin, and senior thrower Matt Banse leading the way in the shot put and hammer throw with best this spring of 17.36 meters (56'11.5") and 59.62 meters (195'7") respectively. The Hawkeye men also currently claim one of the top 4x400 meter slots in the country, as it has a 3:06.49 to their credit this season, landing them in the NCAA's top 10.
The Iowa women bring with them some outstanding Big 10 Conference and perennial NCAA performers. Sophomore 400 meter specialist Ashley Liverpool currently ranks 11th in the NCAA with a season best of 53.12. 5000m runners McKenzie Melander (15:57.13) and Mareike Schrulle (16:13.73) rank in the top 15 in the nation after outstanding performances at last weekends Stanford Invitational. Juniors Hannah Simpson in the 400m hurdles (59.83) and Majesty Tutson in the discus (50.55 meters) are two other Hawkeyes to watch for this weekend.
Loyola (ILL): The Loyola Ramblers bring a host of All-Horizon League performers to town this weekend. Men's Horizon League Indoor Track & Field Runner-up, the Ramblers are led by a pair of NCAA Indoor Track & Field qualifiers in James McLachlan and Declan Murray. McLachlan placed 11th in last months NCAA Indoor Championships and will be making his 2012 outdoor debut in the long jump this weekend. He enters with a personal best leap of 7.72 meters (25'4"). Murray enters the weekend with a lifetime best of 1:48.46 in the 800-meter run, an event where he placed 14th at the NCAA Championships. Leading Loyola in the short sprints is 400m Indoor Conference Champion Bay Abbott. Abbott has top team times in both the 100 and 200 meters this spring. In the distance events, the combination of junior Danny Docherty (29:16.46) and senior Josh Stein (29:40.47) currently sit in the top 45 nationally in the 10,000 meters.
On the women's side, the Ramblers arrive in Columbia with a pair of current Horizon League Athletes of the Week fresh off of a record setting weekend. Competing at the Chicagoland Championship, junior Candice Carajohn broke the Loyola school records in both the long and triple jump. Carajohn comes into the weekend with personal best of 6.08 meters (19'11.5") in the long jump and 12.15 meters (39'10.5") in the triple jump. Not to be outdone by her teammate, junior Gina Valgoi ran to a record setting and Olympic Trials "B" standard time of 33:53.81 for 10,000 meters at last weekends Stanford Invitational.
Missouri State: In-state foe Missouri State makes the trip north from Springfield looking to continue the success they had during the
indoor season, where the Bears won the Missouri Valley Women's Indoor Track & Field Championship. Led by freshman sprinter
Althia Maximillen, Missouri State will offer a balanced attack on both the track and in the field Maximillen won the 400 meter dash
at the Arkansas Spring Invitational with a time of 53.63, currently ranking her 23rd overall in the NCAA. Distance standout Emily
Beaver currently ranks 2nd in the MVC in the 1500 with a time of 4:28.37. Junior Kimsue Grant will have a busy day competing in the
jumps and sprints for the Bears. Grant, the 2012 Missouri Valley Conference Indoor Long Jump Champion, comes in the meet with a
season best leap of 5.99 meters (19'8").
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