Panthers Head To Qualifying Meets This Weekend
Durell Busby is ranked in the top-48 in the region in both javelin and the 110m hurdles

Durell Busby is ranked in the top-48 in the region in both javelin and the 110m hurdles

May 8, 2014

MILWAUKEE - The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee men's and women's track & field teams head to a pair of meets starting Thursday in hopes of bolstering its chances to qualify for the NCAA West Region Championships, May 29-31, in Fayetteville, Ark.

Part of the team will compete at the Dr. Keeler Invitational in Naperville, Ill., while others will head to Eastern Illinois Last Chance meet in Charleston, Ill.

Scouting the Meets
Some of the area's best athletes will head to Naperville, Ill., and Charleston, Ill., this weekend, trying to earn a spot at the NCAA West Regional Championships two weeks from now in Fayetteville, Ark. The top 48 individuals regionally in each event qualify.

Currently, Milwaukee has six student-athletes ranked in the top 48 in various events and more than a handful of others just missing that mark. In all, UWM boasts 18 individuals ranked in the top 100 regionally.

Fast Start
Despite battling less than ideal running conditions at its first three meets, Milwaukee still has been on a tear since the outdoor season kicked off six weeks ago. The Panthers finally started catching some breaks in the weather the past few meets and boy has it shown. In all, UWM has now registered 29 top-10 performances in school history with its biggest meets yet to come.

Record-Breaking Year
Breaking school and league records has seemingly become routine for Milwaukee over the years and this season was no exception. The Panthers broke an outstanding three school records during the outdoor season and also topped three Horizon League records at last weekend's league championships.

Durell Busby kicked the weekend off by breaking the UWM and Horizon League record in javelin with an outstanding throw of 62.12m (203-10) to shatter his own previous record and move into national rankings. Busby also destroyed his own previous league record in the 110m hurdles at a blazing 13.88 seconds for his third-straight title in the event. Nancy Harmon topped her own school record in hammer throw with a toss of 55.63m (182-6) en route to a league championship last weekend. Jordan Schmidt just beat out teammate Dexter Schleis in the 400m hurdles to break Schleis' league record at 51.75, just shy of the school record.

 

 

On top of all that, Milwaukee's shuttle hurdle relay team successfully defending its Drake Relay title by repeating as champions with a new school record time. Busby, Nate Pozolinski, Schmidt and Schleis combined to post a winning time of 56.39 to take the title at the historic meet.

Athlete of the Year
Milwaukee has quite a history of boasting some of the Horizon League's top athletes and that proved to be the case again this season.

In the outdoor season, Durell Busby was named the Horizon League Men's Athlete of the Year for the second time in his career. The senior broke the school and league record in javelin and the league's top mark in the 110m hurdles, where he is ranked as one of the top athletes in the nation. It is the fifth time in the last 11 years Milwaukee has earned the award on the men's side.

During indoor, junior Simbi Laaro capped her remarkable campaign by earning the Horizon League Women's Athlete of the Year Award. The sprinter finished the season ranked in the top-25 in the nation in the 60m. She is the sixth Panther to win the league's top honor since 2004.

League Recognition
Milwaukee has showed some of the best performances across the Horizon League this calendar year and the league office took notice.

UWM athletes have earned a whopping 11 league athlete of the week honors over the two seasons. Here's the complete list:

Jan. 21 - Aaron Dillon, Simbi Laaro
Feb. 4 - Simbi Laaro
Feb. 11 - Simbi Laaro
Feb. 18 - Nate Pozolinski
March 25 - Marquis Johnson
April 8 - Dexter Schleis, Nate Pozolinski
April 15 - Sherice Hewett, Simbi Laaro, Marquis Johnson

Going National
Over the years, UWM track & field has posted some of the top marks not only in the region, but across the nation and this year is no different. With the final regular season marks in the books, Milwaukee ranks in the top-100 in five different events.

The shuttle hurdle relay just successfully defended its title at the Drake Relays. Durell Busby, Nate Pozolinski, Jordan Schmidt and Dexter Schleis combined to post a new school-record time of 56.39 and the group is again ranked as the top relay team in the nation.

Individually, Busby leads the way with the 25th fastest time in the country in the 110m hurdles. The senior All-American leads an outstanding group of hurdlers and is hoping for a return trip to the NCAA Championships. Schleis is also ranked in the event with a blazing time of 14.15 seconds posted last weekend for 76th in the nation.

In the 400m hurdles, Schmidt currently sits 47th with a league-record time of 51.75, while Schleis is just behind his own school-record time at 51.83, good for 54th in the nation.

Sherice Hewett also cracks the top-100 in women's triple jump, sitting 92nd in the nation with a season-best leap of 12.35m (40-6 ¼), just shy of her personal best that sits fourth in school history.

Coaching By Example
Milwaukee assistant coaches Garrett Huyler and Andy Novak made quite the names for themselves competing on the collegiate level and the duo have carried that over into their coaching careers.

While helping the Panthers in high jump (Huyler) and throws (Novak), the two have also continued to compete, putting up some of the top times in the nation in their respective events.

In fact, both competed at the USA Indoor National Championship in Albuquerque, N.M. Feb. 22-23, just missing marks to advance as Huyler placed sixth overall in high jump while Novak took 10th place in shot put.

Hurdling All Competition
Milwaukee has been a hot bed for hurdlers over the years and the current squad is arguably one of the deepest in the nation. On the men's side, UWM has won the hurdle title at the indoor meet all but once over the past seven years, including nearly sweeping the podium two of the last three years (2014, 2012) after taking the top five spots.

In outdoor, the Panthers have had even more success. Coach Corfeld's squad took the top two spots in both the 110m hurdles and the 400m hurdles at last year's league championships with the entire group still on the roster this season.

In fact, Milwaukee's school record holder in every men's hurdle event, indoor and outdoor, is still competing this season.

On top of that, Durell Busby earned All-American status at the 2012 NCAA Championships by placing 12th in the 110m hurdles two seasons ago. And Milwaukee won its first ever track event at the Drake Relays last year when its shuttle hurdle relay team broke the tape first, ranking it the top relay team in the country - a feat the team has now repeated after defending its title at this year's installment of the Drake Relays.

Triple Jump U
Over the past few years, Milwaukee has established itself as one of the top triple jump universities, not only in the Horizon League, but in the entire NCAA. The men have won seven of the last 12 triple jump league titles in both indoor and outdoor and have had a combined 10 second-place showings in that time, as well.

Meanwhile, the women have won five-straight indoor titles and saw their string of five-straight outdoor crowns come to an end just last year. The women also have quite a few All-League Second-Team showings over years.

On the national level, Milwaukee has qualified for the regional meet six times in the last six years, highlighted by former Panther Samia Taylor's run to the NCAA Championships in 2011. Taylor finished 18th in the country that year, earning All-American Honorable Mention status.

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