Seven Illini Win Titles at Season Opener
Jan. 11, 2014
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- The Illinois men's track and field team began the indoor season on Saturday at the Illini Open. Seven Illini won event titles at the UI Armory, while 11 others placed in the top-three in their respective events.
"We had a really good opening meet," said head coach Mike Turk. "Of course, we had some rough spots and we have a couple of guys that are a little banged up, but overall we brought some really good performances to the table. I'm pleased with our progress and it was better than our opening meet last year. It was a good meet and a good start, but we know what we need to do moving forward."
Defending Big Ten champion Brandon Stryganek won the 60m dash with a time of 6.82, while teammate Julian Smith placed second. Zebo Zebe competed in the first 400m race of his career, nothing a third-place finish, while Josh Jones won the 800m title.
Sophomore Joe McAsey placed first in the 600m with a personal-best time of 1:19.80. The time ranks just outside the top-10 all-time list. McAsey also contributed to the third-place 4x400m relay team, along with Zebe, Jones and Luke Carroll.
"The highlight of the day was Joe McAsey," said Turk. "He missed all of last year with an injury and hasn't competed in a race in 18 months. It was a personal best for him, which is a great start. Having Joe out on the track is a really good thing to see."
Newcomer David Kendziera picked up two event titles in his first collegiate meet. The freshman led a group of four Illini in the 60m hurdles, finishing first with a time of 8.23. Kendziera also placed first in the long jump with a mark of 6.55m, while teammates Julian Smith and Branden Tanthavong rounded out the top three. Tanthavong also competed in the triple jump, taking the title with a mark of 14.63m.
Davis Fraker won his first Illini Open weight throw title after throwing a mark of 61-5 3/4 (18.74m), and finished second in the shot put with a mark of 16.49m. Brandon Noe also competed in the shot put and placed third after throwing 16.07m.
The Fighting Illini return to the Armory next weekend for the Illini Classic on Jan. 17-18.
Illinois first place finishers: