Illinois Wins Illini Classic
Jan. 18, 2014
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- The Illinois men's track and field team won the Illini Classic on Saturday, scoring 227.50 team points to place first among the seven-team field. Seven Illini won event titles, while 13 placed in the top-three in their respective events.
"We had an outstanding day today," said head coach Mike Turk. "The thing that was really encouraging were the performances we had without three of our big scorers. Matt Bane, Vanier Joseph, and Stephon Pamilton are all Big Ten champions, but we held them out today. To see us come through with the performances we had and to see some young guys really step up was a great thing. It's exactly what we needed to see in a meet like this. Our energy and competitiveness were great. We've got some work to do in a few areas, but I think overall we made great contributions across the board."
Freshman David Kendziera won the 60m hurdles for the second straight week, setting a personal best time of 8.04 to claim the title. The time ranks just outside of the all-time top-10 list, as the 10th-fastest 60m hurdles time in school history is listed at 8.03. Cam Viney followed closely behind, clocking an 8.06 to place second in his season debut.
The Orange and Blue claimed the top three spots in the 60m dash, as defending Big Ten champion Brandon Stryganek won the event for the second straight week. Darius Thomas placed second, while DJ Zahn placed third after clocking a personal best time of 6.91 in the prelims. Stryganek and Zahn also competed in the 200m dash, with Stryganek placing first to claim his second title of the day and Zahn placing third.
"Brandon was really good today," said Turk. "The times he recorded in both the 60m and 200m were great for him this early in the season. He's never run that fast this early. DJ Zahn really showed that he's getting himself back in shape, and it was great to have Cam Viney back this week."
In the 400m dash, Zahn clocked a 48.99 to capture the title, while freshmen Kenneth Allen placed second in his first collegiate race at that distance. The Illini recorded top-three finishes in both the 600m and 800m runs, as Zebo Zebe finished third in the 600m while Joe McAsey took second in the 800m. In the mile run, Liam Markham placed second in his season debut, while Luke Carroll finished a step behind to place third. The Orange and Blue also recorded top-three finishes in the 3,000m, with Jordan Hebert shaving over 10 seconds off of his personal best time to place second and Jannis Toepfer taking third. The 4x400m relay team of David Kendziera, Cam Viney, Zebo Zebe and Josh Jones also notched a second place finish.
The Illini continued to show success in the field events, with three Illini winning their respective events for the second straight week. Kendziera set a new personal-best in the high jump, recording a mark of 6.87m to place first, while Branden Tanthavong placed first in the triple jump. In the weight throw, Davis Fraker improved his mark from last week by nearly two meters, throwing 20.54m to win the title.
"David Kendziera quietly had a great day winning the hurdles and the long jump, and he also ran the lead leg in the second place 4x400m relay team," said Turk. "That's one of the young guys that really stepped up and did a great job."
The Illini travel to Lexington, Ky. next weekend for the Rod McCravy Memorial on Jan. 24-25.
Illinois First Place Finishers: