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Halfway home, Akinniyi holds down heptathlon lead

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Live Results | Women's Photo Gallery

A career-best opening day has Dorcas Akinniyi holding down the lead in the women's heptathlon at the Big Ten outdoor championships in Bloomington, Ind.

The redshirt freshman racked up 3,357 points on the opening day of competition and holds a 121-point lead over second-place Alecia Beckford-Stewart of Illinois with four events in the books.

Akinniyi's first-day total has her 99 points ahead of the pace she set in her first heptathlon at the Mt.SAC Relays in April, when she established her career-best total of 5,245 points.

She headlined an outstanding opening day for the Badgers in the event, with sophomore teammate Jessica Flax third with a four-event score of 3,222 points and senior Jenny Soceka fourth at 3,164 points.

Multi-event update

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Women's Photo Gallery | Men's Photo Gallery

The men's decathlon is on to its fourth event of the day at the Big Ten outdoor championships, while the women's heptathlon is in its third event.

Redshirt freshman Dorcas Akinniyi, the Big Ten indoor pentathlon champion, is the leader through two events in the pentathlon at 1,910 points. She had the top mark in the high jump by clearing a personal-best 5 feet, 10 inches.

Sophomore Jessica Flax cleared 5-3 in the high jump and stands No. 4 at 1,709 points, while senior Jenny Soceka is fifth at 1,648 points after clearing 5-1 3/4.

In the decathlon, David Grzesiak leads the way for the Badgers in sixth place after the 100 meters, long jump and shot put. His total of 2,165 has him just ahead of seventh-place teammate Seth Pelock (2,160 points), while Derek Steinbach is ninth at 2,049. Ian Jansen (pictured above in the long jump) is 14th at 1,969.

Big Ten championships underway

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With the men's decathlon 100 meters and the heptathlon 100-meter hurdles, the 2010 Big Ten Outdoor Championships are underway at the Robert C. Haugh Track & Field Complex in Bloomington, Ind.

Follow along with Live Results and on Twitter.

The Badgers are off to an especially strong start in the women's hepathlon, with sophomore Jessica Flax, redshirt freshman Dorcas Akinniyi and senior Jenny Soceka posting the three fastest marks in the 100 hurdles.

All three posted personal-best performances, led by Flax's time of 14.04 seconds. The trio stands 1-2-3 in the heptathlon standings after the first of seven events.

In the decathlon, Grzesiak leads the charge for the Badgers after the 100 meters. His time of 11.42 has him sixth after one event in the 10-event competition.

Badgers position themselves for NCAAs

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With just this weekend's Wisconsin Twilight standing between the Badgers and college track and field's version of the postseason, a number of UW athletes have positioned themselves to compete at the NCAA championships.

Last weekend's Musco Twilight in Iowa City, Iowa, and Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational in Palo Alto, Calif., had a major impact on the postseason hopes of a number of Badgers because of changes to the qualifying format for the NCAA championships.

Looking at this weekend's lineups

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With just two weeks remaining before the Big Ten outdoor championships, it's another busy weekend of competition for the Badger women.

The bulk of UW's distance crew is off to the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational, while the rest of the Badgers make the shorter trip to Iowa City, Iowa, for the Musco Twilight Invitational.

Here's a look at who is heading where this weekend...

Weekend a big one for Badger alums, too

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As usual, the Wisconsin men's track and field team has had the first weekend in May circled on its calendar since the outdoor season began.

That's because the annual trip to Palo Alto, Calif., for the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational usually brings out the best in the Badgers.

Last year in Palo Alto, then-juniors Jack Bolas and Craig Miller recorded the third- and fifth-fastest 1,500 meters times in school history. Bolas' 3:37.64 ranked No. 4 in the nation last year, while Miller's 3:37.81 was No. 5 on the NCAA list.

Miller and Bolas seek similar success on Saturday, but this year's running of the Payton Jordan Invitational is a big one for some former Badgers, too.

Video: Recapping the Badgers' weekend at Drake



Check out a video interview with the four members of the championship distance medley relay team of Ryan Gasper, James Groce, Zach Beth and Craig Miller after the jump.


Finnerty, Rucks take third-place finishes

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Redshirt freshman Rob Finnerty showed he's undoubtedly on the downhill side of the road to recovery with a third-place finish in the 1,500 meters Saturday at the Drake Relays.

Finnerty, who missed his entire first season at UW because of injury, ran a personal-best 3:45.45 but was nipped at the line by Iowa State freshman Rico Loy and Silas Kisorio of Oklahoma Christian in a fantastic finish.

He spent most of the race on Kisorio's shoulder at the front of the pack and was in good position for a kick with 150 meters to go. That's when Loy joined the fray, and he out-kicked both the front-runners to take the win in 3:45.27.

Kisorio was just back in 3:45.37 with Finnerty half a step behind as all three lunged for the finish.

Finnerty's time cut more than three seconds off his previous best, the 3:48.50 he ran two weeks ago at the Mt. SAC Relays.

In the 800 meters, junior Luke Rucks finished a busy day of competition -- he also anchored UW's effort in the sprint medley relay -- by taking a third in the 800 meters.

Despite splitting a 1:50 earlier in the day on the relay, Rucks clocked in at 1:50.38 to claim his third-place finish. The time was just off Rucks' season-best mark of 1:50.20 that he ran at Mt. SAC.

Alabama junior Fred Samoei claimed the win in 1:49.73, with Nebraska freshman Tommy Brinn taking second in 1:49.84.

Niedermeyer posts impressive vault win

Former Badger Darren Niedermeyer added another line to his post-collegiate resume Saturday with an impressive win in the men's special pole vault at the Drake Relays.

Niedermeyer needed to clear just two bars to win, but it was the way he cleared them that led to the victory. He and runner-up Derek Miles -- the two-time defending Drake champion in the men's special vault -- both cleared 17-7 1/4 on their second attempt.

The key came on the next bar, the height that ended up as the winning clearance. Niedermeyer made it over on his first attempt, but it took Miles two tries to gain clearance. When neither could clear the next bar in the progression at 18-5 1/4, the win went to Niedermeyer on the criteria of misses.

It's a big victory for Niedermeyer considering some of Miles' credentials. Beyond being a three-time Drake champion, he was the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials champion and went on to finish fourth at the Olympics in Beijing. Plus, he owns an impressive lifetime-best clearance of 19-2 1/2.

"He's one of the guys you're always aiming to beat," Niedermeyer said of Miles. "So, it feels good to be able to get a victory today."

Double success in triple jump

Senior LaQuita Brazil posted a personal-best leap and sophomore Jordan Helgren put up her best mark of the season to grab a pair of top-10 finishes in the women's triple jump Saturday afternoon at the Drake Relays.

Brazil had the top mark in her flight with her lifetime-best effort of 40 feet, 7 3/4 inches, but she narrowly missed out on a spot in the finals. The performance moved her up to No. 8 on the Badgers' all-time list in the event.

Helgren did advance to the finals and posted her best attempt of the day on her third and final jump of the trials. She leapt a season-best 41-4 1/2, a mark she did not improve on in the finals, but one that was good enough for seventh place overall.

Freshman Andrea Geubell of Kansas had the winning mark with a leap of 43-11 1/4.

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