April 16, 2009
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois men's track and field team heads to Baltimore this weekend, competing on Friday and Saturday at the Morgan State Legacy Track Meet. The Fighting Illini will use the competition as a trial run for the Big Ten Championships as the meet is team-scored.
"Our primary focus for this competition is to rehearse for the Big Ten Championships," head coach Wayne Angel said. "I'm not as concerned with who will be there as I am with how we will compete as a team. This meet will be a great gauge to evaluate our current readiness, and if we perform well it will definitely be a positive stepping stone toward the championship phase of the season."
The Morgan State Legacy Track Meet begins tomorrow afternoon, with the javelin, hammer throw and first five events of the decathlon the only events contested on the first day. Track action resumes on Saturday morning, with running events beginning at 9 a.m. and going throughout the afternoon. Illinois will face off against squads from Pitt, Navy and six schools from the MEAC conference.
All-American Gakologelwang Masheto will return to action for the Illini after taking last weekend off, running his customary 400 meters. The race will feature a pair of 2008 Olympians in Masheto and Maryland-Eastern Shore's Allodin Fothergill. Masheto competed in the 400m for Botswana in Beijing, while Fothergill ran on Jamaica's 4x400m relay. The two athletes have almost identical season-bests in 2009, so Saturday's race should have an exciting finish. Masheto currently ranks sixth in the NCAA with a 400m time of 46.31, just 0.01 seconds better than Fothergill's season-best time of 46.32.
Junior Gary Miller will try to drop his time in the 800m, an event he has already qualified for the NCAA Regional Championships in with a time of 1:50.32. Hurdlers Andrew Riley and Cody Wisslead have also qualified for regionals, and will look to win titles in the 110m hurdles and 400m hurdles.
Illinois will also compete its top field event athletes in junior Greg Shroka and Riley in the high jump, senior Andrew Zollner in the pole vault and throwers Casey Fonnesbeck and Matt McHugh. Fonnesbeck is coming off of a solid weekend at the Spec Towns National Team Invitational where he qualified for the NCAA Regional Championships in the shot put.
The distance events will feature a number of freshmen competing for the Orange and Blue, with Graham Farnsworth running the 1,500m, Chris DeSilva competing in the 3,000m steeplechase and Colin and Hunter Mickow running the 5,000m.
Next week, Illinois heads to the prestigious Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa from April 22-25.