Matthew McClintock made history Sunday, as he broke the all-time Big Ten Championships 8,000-meter record en route to becoming Purdue’s first Big Ten champion in 72 years. He helped the men’s side finish seventh. Hope Schmelzle finished fifth in the women’s race, shattering the 6,000-meter school record by nearly 40 seconds, to lead the No. 30 Boilermakers to a sixth place finish, the program’s best since 2001.
“It was me and Mason Ferlic from Michigan, and I was able to use the last 400 meters to my advantage,” McClintock said. “I think a lot of it comes down to (assistant cross country) Coach (Jeff) Kent’s training. He’s helped me build my mileage and my intensity. Each year builds on the next, so you keep progressing up. I didn’t see my finish time, but I caught a glimpse of a clock and thought ‘wow, I ran really fast.’ I didn’t know it was a record until we looked it up. That wasn’t first in my mind, but that’s something that’s really cool to have.”
McClintock pulled the lead group early, making the men’s race more of a sprint, a tactic he credits to his outdoor track and field Big Ten 10,000-meter championship, where he used a similar technique. The race came down the finals 400 meters, where McClintock and Ferlic, also an All-American, were pretty even. That’s where the Purdue senior’s speed work kicked in and he was able to run away from the field and win by 7.5 seconds with a time of 23:12.1. His time broke the all-time conference championship record of 23:18, set in 2011 by Wisconsin’s Mohammed Ahmed.
“I’ve always known how to race well, which is something that has helped me beat guys that are more talented than me,” McClintock said. “Getting the monkey off my back by winning the 10k in track was big. Today’s race was the fastest race in Big Ten history. The outdoor track season showed me how to win because I learned I had to make the race as hard for everyone else as possible and that was to get out to a fast 5k.”
“Matt (McClintock) has been knocking on the door since he was a freshman,” head coach Lonnie Greene said. “He has been right there his entire career. For it to come to fruition really blessed me because he did it in grand style. He ran away from the field and I was really happy for him and Coach Kent. Coach Kent saw that he could win it and saw that he was extremely sharp. It blesses me that a Boilermaker could be the one to break the tape.”
Schmelzle has been the women’s top runner all season. She had her best day as a Boilermaker Sunday as she finished fifth against several of the nation’s top individual runners and teams. Schmelzle ran a 6,000-meter time of 20:13.1. Schmelzle’s time broke a number of records, as she became Purdue’s fastest 6k runner in program history by nearly 40 seconds, Purdue’s fastest Big Ten Championships runner by 39.9 seconds and is just the third runner in program history to even break the 21-minute mark in a 6k Big Ten Championships race. Schmelzle finished 52 spots and 1:13.4 ahead of her Big Ten Championship result in 2014.
“Going into the race, we knew that there was a very talented field that we were going up against,” Schmelzle said. “I just wanted to try to put myself in the top 10 or 15. I did a pretty good job of that early on. At the 3k mark, Coach Kent was yelling at me, telling me that I had 15 people in front of me and that I was half way there. I kept pushing, caught another pack and kept moving. I got to the last K and knew I had to kick and that I’d have a shot to keep moving up. It was a great feeling to finish in the top five and earn All-Big Ten honors.”
After having just two runners break the 21 minute mark in a 6k Big Ten Championship race, the Boilermakers matched that number Sunday. Katie Hoevet also had the best race of her career. The senior finished with a time of 20:29.6 to finish 15th overall. Kendall Hacker was the third Boilermaker to finish, nearly identically matching her race from a season ago. Hacker crossed the line 39th with a time of 21:10.5, bettering her 40th place finish from a year ago with a time of 21:10.1. Kiara McIntosh was fourth for Purdue. She took 40th with a time of 21:11.8. Freshman Mary Abramson rounded out the scoring with a 54th-place finish time of 21:25.8.
The women’s team finished with 149 points, good for sixth place. The team improved two spots and 92 points from last season. Four of the five scorers, including Schmelzle, have eligibility remaining after this season.
No. 15 Penn State won the women’s race with 53 points. No. 2 Michigan was second with 58. No. 21 Michigan State took third with 104, while No. 22 Minnesota was fourth with 106. Wisconsin, receiving votes in the latest poll, was fifth with 139.
On the men’s side, Tate Schienbein was second for Purdue. The senior finished with a time of 24:23.3 to take 39th overall. Jacob Hanawalt was right behind him, crossing the line in 40th with a time of 24:26.4. Caleb Kerr was fourth for Purdue with a 48th place finish and time of 24:38.8, while Ben Anderson rounded out the scoring with a 49th place finish and time of 24:39.2.
The men’s team finished seventh with 173 points, two spots and 80 points better than last season. No. 5 Michigan was the team champion with 63 points. Illinois, receiving votes in the latest poll, was second with 81. Minnesota took third with 98 points, while No. 28 Indiana was fourth with 112. No. 19 Michigan State was fifth with 113 points, while Penn State was sixth with 169. Purdue finished ahead of No. 27 Wisconsin, which finished eighth.
“It was a good day,” head coach Lonnie Greene said. “I thought it actually could have been even better, because we were just a few points out of sixth on the men’s side and within 10 of fifth for the women. It was a good day and I am very pleased and very encouraged. Kudos to Coach Kent. He’s done a great job of motivating and making the teams believe. I always thought we had great cross country teams, but we just needed some consistency in the coaching position. Watching them come from a group that wasn’t much respected to a group that everyone else is trying to hold off is exciting. We are still very young. Individuals like Hope (Schmelzle) are really coming into their own.
“It really blessed my heart to see our women and our men battle with the best in the country because the best in the country is in the Big Ten. To see Matt crush the Big Ten Championship record, the fastest 8k ever, that is phenomenal. To see Hope run so fast, I don’t think the kids understand how fast they ran. They are competing at an NCAA Championship-caliber level. You won’t see much better times at the national championships than what we saw today. I am very excited for our program.”
The Boilermakers are back in action Friday, Nov. 13, in Madison, Wisconsin, for the NCAA Great Lakes Regional. The top two teams at each regional automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships. Then, the at-large bids are handed out.
“This really gives us confidence,” Schmelzle said. “It’s an excitement building up. Today, we were able to see how we compare against some of the top ranked teams in the country. I think we have an even better day ahead of us. That’s exciting in itself. We finished pretty well today, but have even better days. I think the bond that we share with the girls on our team who lineup and toe the line together is what has carried us this far and will continue to carry us this postseason.”