Senior Greg Shroka set an indoor personal-best leap of 7-0 ¼ (2.14m) and hit the provisional qualifying mark for the NCAA Indoor Championships.
Jan. 9, 2010
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois men's track and field team won six event titles on Saturday, but was edged by Iowa, 80.5 to 79.5, in the season-opening dual at the University of Illinois Armory. Senior All-American Greg Shroka set an indoor personal-best leap of 7-0 ¼ (2.14m) to take the high jump crown, while sophomore and two-time All-American Andrew Riley won the 60m hurdles with a time of 8.10 seconds. Shroka's jump also hit the provisional qualifying mark for the NCAA Indoor Championships and ranks as the second-best indoor leap in Illinois history, behind only Gail Olson's mark of 7-3 in 1980.
"Greg had a great performance with a personal-best indoor jump that will probably get him into NCAAs," interim head coach Mike Turk said. "He was jumping at heights today that we left off from last year, so he is right on track to improve on last year's success.
"Andrew just made it back from Jamaica on Friday, but he wanted to go out and run in front of the hometown crowd. I was pleased with his performance today, and he will be a contender on the NCAA level this year."
Heading into the 4x400m relay, the meet's final event, the Illini had a one-point advantage over the Hawkeyes (76.5 to 75.5) and needed to win the relay to seal the victory. The race was neck and neck through the first two legs, but Iowa began to pull ahead during the third 400m. Illinois' anchor, Dan Jones, nearly caught the Hawkeye's anchor on the final leg, but fell just short in the end by eight tenths of a second.
"Even though we didn't win, this was a great meet for our young guys to see what the Big Ten is all about," Turk said. "We were right there with a really good team, but just couldn't pull it out in the end."
Senior Azeez Shogbuyi picked up a pair of titles on the afternoon, sprinting to a new personal-best in the 60m dash to earn the victory with a time of 6.85 and winning the long jump with a mark of 6.87m. Freshman standout Boyea Lockett, a two-time Oklahoma high school state champion in the 200m, showcased his speed in his first career meet and earned the 200m title with a time of 21.99. Illinois' other event title came in the pole vault, where junior Alex Baldwin garnered the top spot with a mark of 4.60m.
The Illini had a number of other solid performances throughout the afternoon. In the sprinting events, junior Dan Jones scored twice, with a second-place finish in the 400m and a fourth-place showing in the 200m. Sophomore Stanley Azie set a new PR (6.92) in the 60m and placed third in the event. In the field events, senior Casey Fonnesbeck placed second in the shot put and third in the weight throw.
In the middle distance and distance events, senior Scott Phelps notched a runner-up finish in the 600m to score for the Illini with a time of 1:20.72. Sophomore Graham Farnsworth and senior Brian Beaird ran two-three in the 800m, while sophomore Kyle Engnell and junior Dan Kremske did the same in the mile. Sophomore Colin Mickow also tallied a runner-up finish in the 3,000m and eclipsed his old PR by nearly four seconds with a time of 8:29.20.
"Those young guys showed me a lot today, and they are only going to continue to improve," Turk said. "We just need to focus on continuing to get better with each day, but I was very pleased with their effort overall."
Illinois has next week off, but returns to the UI Armory in two weeks for the Carle/Health Alliance Classic on Jan. 23.