March 27, 2008
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Fighting Illini men's track and field team kicks off its outdoor season this weekend, competing at the SIU/Gill Athletics Spring Classic in Carbondale, Ill. on Friday, March 28 and Saturday, March 29. The hammer throw and the long jump are the only events scheduled for Friday, while Saturday action begins at 10:30 a.m. and runs all day.
Illinois will travel a roster of 33 athletes to the meet, which also features men's squads from Illinois State, UW-Milwaukee and SIU-Edwardsville and host Southern Illinois. It is the first competition for most of the Illini since the Big Ten Indoor Championships on March 1-2.
"We're very excited to get the outdoor season underway," head coach Wayne Angel said. "This meet will be a great opportunity to evaluate where we are fitness-wise and hopefully grab some NCAA Regional qualifying marks as well."
Dominique Worsley will run on the outdoor track for the first time in two years after redshirting last season. He was a junior in the indoor season, but holds sophomore eligibility this outdoor season. Worsley had a dominant freshman year in 2006, qualifying for the NCAA Championships in the 200m and placing second in the 100m and third in the 200m at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships.
Also competing this weekend is junior Andrew Zollner, who competed in the NCAA Championships in the pole vault last season, and sophomore Greg Shroka, who is coming off of a fifth-place finish in the high jump at the Big Ten Indoor Championships. Sophomore Jacob Nachel will run the 800m and 1,500m after a strong indoor season, and senior Pierre Bush is set to compete in four events (100m, long jump, 4x100m, 4x400m).
A number of athletes will make their outdoor Illini track and field debuts, led by freshman Josh Gist (hurdles) and sophomore transfer Brandon Gray (400m), who both took fifth in their respective events at the Big Ten Indoor Championships. Junior transfers Gary Miller and Yawusa Kinda will both run the 400m and the Illini's top 4x400m.
Up next for the Illini is the SEMOtion Invitational next Saturday, April 5 hosted by Southeast Missouri State in Cape Girardeau, Mo.