Feb. 14, 2009
AMES, Iowa - The Illinois men's track and field team turned in its best performances of the year on Saturday at the Iowa State Classic, provisionally qualifying for the NCAA Championships in four events. Freshman Andrew Riley (60m hurdles) and junior Gary Miller (800m) ran provisional qualifying marks for the first time in their careers, while senior Gakologelwang Masheto and the 4x400m relay ran season-best times to better their NCAA provisional marks set earlier this year.
Riley was the standout for the Illini, provisionally qualifying for the NCAA Championships in the 60m hurdles with a time of 7.84 to take fourth in the event final. The time ranks second on the Illinois all-time performance list, just 0.02 seconds off of Sherman Armstrong's school record of 7.82 set in 2000. Riley also timed 7.97 in the hurdles in event prelims, when heading into the weekend his personal-best in the event was 8.08. The freshman from Kingston, Jamaica also ran a strong 60m, placing 10th with a personal-best time of 6.85.
"Riley had a spectacular meet, with great performances in both the hurdles and 60 meters," head coach Wayne Angel said. "Across the board, the breakthroughs I was looking for from our guys happened this weekend. They stepped it up and did what we needed them to and we had a very successful meet. We still have some work to do, but everything looks brighter."
Miller had a breakthrough meet as well, with a career-best performance of 1:49.75 in the 800m to provisionally qualify for the NCAA Championships. The junior took fifth in the event final and bettered his season-best in the event by over two seconds.
Masheto was Illinois' top finisher of the meet in placing second in the 400m in a photo-finish final. The Illini's two-time All-American timed a season-best 46.87, just behind the first-place time of 46.85 ran by New Mexico's Jarrin Solomon. Masheto has now hit the NCAA provisional mark in the 400m three times this season.
The Illini also improved their time in the 4x400m relay, running a NCAA provisional qualifying time for the second time of the season. The foursome of freshman Hendrik Maartens, Miller, sophomore Dan Jones and Masheto placed third in an impressive time of 3:09.33. Nebraska won the relay in 3:08.54.
Maartens ran the fastest he has as an Illini in the open 400m, placing eighth in the event with a time of 47.90. Jones also ran a season-best in the 400m, timing 48.64 and finishing 19th. Illinois had two other strong performances in the 800m behind Miller, as junior Brian Beaird ran a season-best time of 1:51.78 and freshman Graham Farnsworth timed 1:53.87.
Sophomore Cody Wisslead joined Riley in the 60m hurdles final, matching his personal-best in the event with a time of 8.19 and taking 14th. In the 3,000m, sophomore Jeremy Stevens took 12th in 8:24.37.
In the field events, senior Andrew Zollner tied for eighth in the pole vault with a mark of 16-0 3/4, hitting the height for the third time this season. Freshman Earnest Green took 12th in the triple jump with a leap of 45-6 1/4.