Illini Men Claim Illinois Invite Title
The University of Illinois men's and women's track and field teams opened the season today by hosting the Illinois Invitational at the Armory Track in front of 957 fans. The Illini men came out winners, with 195 points, ahead of Eastern Illinois (155), Indiana State (148) and DePaul (71). The UI women's team finished second with 107 points behind Indiana State (132) and ahead of Eastern Illinois (96).
The highlight of the meet came in the women's high jump, where senior All-American Stacy Ann Grant automatically qualified for the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships by clearing 6'-1 1/4" (1.86m) en route to the victory. The jump ties Grant's own school record in the event, which was set last season.
"I was only a little surprised that Stacy jumped so high," said UI women's coach Gary Winckler. "She has been working out very hard the last 10 days, but her technique was not were I would like it, so for her to jump as high as she did is really pretty amazing."
Winckler also pointed to true freshman Camee Williams and sophomore Tara Mendozza as two athletes who competed exceptionally well. Williams won the 60-meter hurdles in 6.77 seconds and placed second to Grant in the long jump by clearing 5'-7" (1.70m). She also placed seventh in the long jump. Mendozza, a sophomore, ran away with the mile, finishing in 4:55.93. Sophomore Aleisha Latimer also won the 60 meters in 7.44.
In the men's competition, Illinois athletes won seven individual titles plus the distance medley relay and the 4x400-meter relay. Sophomore Babatunde Ridley won the 60 meters in 6.83. Sophomore Sherman Armstrong won the 200 by running 21.71. Senior Bobby True won the 600 in 1:19.63. True freshman Jason Van Swol won the 800 in a time of 1:52.00. Senior Cortney Lamb won the mile in 4:13.56 and came back to finish second in the 3,000 (8:34.48), missing first place by 0.01. Junior Jon Russell won the 5,000 in 14:47.01. Senior Justin Norberg won the pole vault by clearing 16'-0 3/4" (4.90m).
"Sometimes you come into the first meet of the year and are a little shaky, but I didn't see any of that today," said UI men's coach Gary Wieneke. "We took control of the things from the very beginning and showed great team enthusiasm. I'm pleased because we had a wealth of quality, competitive performance, and that doesn't always happen in the first meet of the year."
The Illinois men will host the Illinois Men's Open Saturday, Jan. 23, at 12:30 p.m. at the Armory Track. The women will next host the Illinois Women's Invitational, Saturday, Jan. 30 at 12:30 p.m.