MU places low with high effort

Two weeks ago Emily Leklem sprained the knuckle of the index finger on her throwing hand while tossing the shot put.

For the first time since that injury the fifth-year senior and captain on Marquette's track and field team threw a shut put Sunday at the Big East indoor championships in Akron, Ohio. Despite the injury-induced layoff, her second throw of 46-1 1/4 feet was a personal best this season and seventh best at the conference meet.

Leklem's finish earned two points for the Marquette women's indoor team which finished with 34 points, good for a 12th place finish in the 16-team conference. The men finished 11th with 28 points.

"It actually went pretty well," said Marquette head coach Dave Uhrich. "We scored points in the places we felt like we could score points. We had a lot of good performances. We just were disappointed where we ended up placing."

Keeping in mind her injury, rehab and preparation, Leklem had a solid return and turned in one of those "good performances" her coach alluded to.

She diligently applied ice, wore a splint throughout the weekend and even received electrical stimulation, in order to throw. The injury also impacted her practice routine, but this proved to be a blessing in disguise.

"A lot of our sport is based on peaking at the right time," Leklem said. "And so it really affected how much I was able to peak, but in one way it was good because I was forced to focus on my technique for two weeks … and by focusing on technique (Sunday) it allowed me to still throw a season's best for this year indoors."

On the men's side, high jumper Raymond Bratch also turned in a personal best performance by clearing 7'0 1/4 feet.

"That was really exciting," Uhrich said. "In every event there's kind of always a barrier that it is nice to be better than the barrier. In the high jump seven feet is one of them. When you are a seven-foot high jumper that is very impressive. For Ray to come out in his sophomore year, first year in the conference, and take second and get that magic seven-foot barrier that was probably our most exciting event of the meet."

Bratchett had some help along the way. Since the high jump was one of the final meets of the day, many of his teammates gathered around to watch Bratchett duel Connecticut freshman Ellis Gaulden, who eventually finished first.

"When you are up at that high with just you and another guy you want your team to be there to support," Bratchett said. "The whole team was there cheering me on, and I think that was one of the key factors for making that seven feet."

Michaela Courtney tied Bratchett for Marquette's best individual performance of the day.

She finished second in the mile run with a time of 4:47.31 and defeated a number of All-American runners in the process, according to Uhrich.

"It was very enjoyable being part of it," Uhrich said of the Big East Championships. "Even though we did not place real high it gives us a starting point."