March 13, 2009
COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Illinois men's track and field freshman Andrew Riley made the 60m hurdles final on Friday at the NCAA Indoor Championships, setting up for an exciting race tomorrow at Texas A&M's Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium. It was a different story for senior Gakologelwang Masheto, as he failed to advance in the 400m despite winning his heat.
Riley finished eighth in the 60m hurdles trial to qualify for the final. The only freshman in the field of 14 athletes, Riley timed 7.81 to advance to tomorrow's race. The performance was the second-fastest of his career and first competition since he won the 60m hurdles Big Ten title with a school-record time of 7.72. Texas Tech junior Omo Osaghae had the fastest time of event prelims, running 7.72.
The 60m hurdles final will take place tomorrow afternoon at 5:30 p.m. Riley will attempt to be the first Illini indoor All-American in the hurdles since Elbert Turner in 1990.
"Riley got off to a great start and had a very solid race," Illinois head coach Wayne Angel said. "The final should be very interesting tomorrow as it could be anyone's race. We're looking forward to him becoming an All-American for the first time."
Masheto timed 47.37 in the 400m trials to finish 12th in the field of 16, taking first in the fourth and final heat. Unlike in other meets where heat winners automatically advance to finals, the NCAA Championships qualifies the eight fastest overall times. LSU freshman Robert Simmons ran the fastest time of the day in 46.63.
It was a disappointing end to the indoor season for Masheto, who came into the championships ranked first in the country in the 400m with a school-record time of 45.80.
"(Masheto) ran a little bit too conservative and slowed down too early," Angel said. "I feel bad for him but he learned a valuable lesson today. The good thing is he still has a chance during the outdoor season to pick up another All-America honor. Today's finish doesn't diminish his fantastic indoor season."