Feb. 19, 2009
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois men's track and field team will have one more meet to make a statement before the Big Ten Championships, competing on Friday at Eastern Illinois' Friday Night Special in Charleston, Ill. Field events begin at 2 p.m., with the running to follow starting at 3 p.m. Competing schools include Butler, Illinois State, Arkansas State and Southern Illinois.
"We're looking at this meet as a tune-up, giving everyone one last chance to compete before the Big Ten Championships," head coach Wayne Angel said. "The athletes who are on the bubble of making the championships roster will have another opportunity to impress, while the athletes who have already established themselves will use the meet for training purpose. We want to be as prepared as possible before heading to Penn State next week."
A number of Illinois' top performers will be competing in races other than their traditional events. Senior Gakologelwang Masheto will run the 600m instead of his traditional 400m, while junior Gary Miller will contest the 400m instead of the 800m. Both Masheto and Miller ran NCAA provisional qualifying times and had season-best performances last weekend at the Iowa State Classic, with Masheto timing 46.87 in the 400m and Miller running 1:49.75 in the 800m.
Additionally, freshman Hendrik Maartens will run the 60m for the first time as an Illini after running a season-best 400m of 47.90 last weekend. Freshman Andrew Riley will focus solely on the high jump after running the second-fastest 60m hurdles performance in Illinois history at Iowa State (7.84).
Illinois athletes looking for breakthrough performances include sophomore Josh Gist in the 60m hurdles, freshman Stanley Azie and junior Azeez Shogbuyi in the 60m, junior Scott Phelps in the 600m and senior Andrew Zollner in the pole vault.
The men's Big Ten Indoor Championships will be held Saturday, Feb. 28 and Sunday, March 1 in State College, Pa.