Dec. 4, 2008
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois men's track and field team will get an early start to its indoor season, competing this Friday at the Saluki Fast Start meet hosted by Southern Illinois in Carbondale, Ill. Field events begin at 11:30 a.m., with the running scheduled to start at 4 p.m. Fourteen Illini will make their season debuts, highlighted by NCAA Outdoor Championships qualifiers Gakologelwang Masheto and Andrew Zollner.
"The guys had a great fall season in terms of their training, and they are looking forward to this early competition," head coach Wayne Angel said. "This meet has always been a barometer of sorts to gauge our fitness level and evaluate where we are compared to where we were at this time last year. From all indications it looks like we're going to have a great year."
After representing Botswana in the Olympics this summer, Masheto will begin his senior season at Illinois running his signature event, the 400m. Also competing in the 400m will be a pair of 2008 NCAA outdoor regional qualifiers in senior Yawusa Kinda and sophomore Cody Wisslead, along with sophomore Dan Jones and redshirt freshman Nic Haab.
Zollner will compete in the pole vault, where he owns an indoor personal-best mark of 16'10 ¾". The senior will also run the 60m hurdles along with Wisslead, Haab and sophomore Josh Gist, who took fifth in the event at last year's Big Ten Indoor Championships.
In the middle distances, junior Brian Beaird will run the 800m, Graham Farnsworth the mile and a trio of Illini will contest the 600m in senior Maxwell Mkwezalamba, junior Scott Phelps and junior Gary Miller.
Rounding out the Orange and Blue lineup is redshirt freshman Stanley Azie in both the 60m and 200m, freshman Shawn Ledbetter in the 60m hurdles and high jump and redshirt freshman Aaron Mathis in the pole vault. The Illini are also scheduled to compete in the 4x400m relay.
After Friday's meet, the Illini will have over a month off from competition. Next up is a dual meet with Iowa in Iowa City on Saturday, Jan. 10.