April 4, 2009
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The Illinois men's track and field team received strong performances from each of the four relays competing on Saturday at the Florida Relays, as all recorded a top-five finish in one of the most prestigious meets in the country. The Orange and Blue highlight of the day was the 4x400m relay, which improved its performance from the week before by nearly two seconds.
"We ran against some pretty fast teams this weekend," head coach Wayne Angel said. "The guys are definitely starting to get it together and I'm pleased with our performances over the last couple days. It was a productive weekend where we got a lot accomplished. If we keep our heads together and continue to improve we should be ready for the Big Ten Championships."
The 4x400m squad of senior Gakologelwang Masheto, sophomore Dan Jones, freshman Hendrik Maartens and junior Gary Miller finished fifth to close out the meet, improving their regional qualifying time in a season-best 3:06.83. Host Florida won the 4x400m in a time of 3:02.84. All four Illini ran splits of 46.9 or better, with Masheto leading the way at 46.1.
The same Illini running the 4x400m relay also ran the sprint medley relay (Maartens, Jones, Masheto, Miller), as they had the highest Illinois finish of the meet in taking second. The Orange and Blue finished as the first collegiate team in the sprint medley relay, placing runner-up overall to Hepburn Elite with a time of 3:18.80.
The Illini 4x800m relay of Scott Phelps, Brian Beaird, Graham Farnsworth and Jared Richardson was third in a time of 7:32.92. Albany won the 4x800m in 7:26.67. Illinois also contested a shuttle hurdle relay, with an all-underclassmen squad of sophomore Josh Gist, sophomore Cody Wisslead, freshman Shawn Ledbetter and freshman Nic Haab placing fourth with a time of 1:00.16.
Illinois sent a separate group of athletes over the weekend to compete in the Big Blue Classic hosted by Eastern Illinois in Charleston, Ill. Redshirt freshman Alex Baldwin was the Illini's only event winner, taking first in the pole vault with a personal-best height of 16-0 3/4.
Sophomore Casey Fonnesbeck took second in the shot put with a throw of 53-6 1/2, while freshman Chris DeSilva competed in the 3,000m steeplechase for the first time as an Illini, placing runner-up with a time of 9:35.03.
Illinois had three athletes finish in the top-10 in the 1,500m, led by Colin Mickow's fourth-place finish time of 3:55.99. Sophomore Dan Kresmske took sixth (3:56.32) while freshman Hunter Mickow was eighth (3:58.46).
Next weekend the Illini travel to Athens, Ga. for the Spec Towns Invitational on April 11.