Nine Illini Record Top-Three Finishes at Rod McCravy Memorial Invite
Jan. 25, 2014
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The Illinois men's track and field team had a very successful weekend at the Rod McCravy Memorial Invitational. Named this week's USTFCCCA Division I National Meet of the Week, the meet featured five nationally-ranked teams, including No. 12 Illinois. The Illini recorded two first-place finishes and 20 top-10 finishes, set 10 personal-bests and clocked nine times that rank in the top-five of the Big Ten.
The Illini immediately got off to a great start on the first day of competition on Friday. Zebo Zebe won the 600 yard race, while Josh Jones and Malik Lee placed third and fourth, respectively. Brandon Stryganek placed second in the 200m dash with a season-best time of 21.23, currently the third-fastest time in the Big Ten. Jordan Hebert and Paul Zeman competed in the 5,000m run, each setting personal-bests and breaking the meet record to place second and fourth, respectively. Hebert's time of 14:21.84 is currently second-fastest in the Big Ten and fifth in the nation, while Zeman's time of 14:30.60 is ranked sixth in the Big Ten.
"Zebo Zebe has progressed well," said head coach Mike Turk. "He's winning races and and providing good leadership. I loved seeing him win the 600 yard race. Brandon finished second in the 200m and beat the defending Big Ten champion (Timothy Faust of Ohio State)."
The distance medley relay squad made its season debut on Friday, breaking the meet and facility records in the event to notch a second place finish with a time of 9:36.24. The time is also currently the fastest in the Big Ten, second-fastest in the country and the second-fastest in school history. The Illini also got a third place finish from Davis Fraker in the weight throw.
"Our DMR was fantastic for this early in the season," said Turk. "They showed that we are capable at making another successful run at the NCAA Championships. I am especially pleased with the performance considering we have three new pairs of legs on the team this year. That's a real tribute to quality and depth being developed in our middle distance program. Luke Carroll led off and had a breakthrough performance, and Stephon Pamilton ran a solid first race. Joe McAsey and Liam Markham were very competitive, and I was very pleased with the fight Liam showed at the end of his anchor leg. He made a huge surge and almost caught Virginia at the line. It was a very well executed race by the guys."
The Orange and Blue carried the success over to Saturday as well, as Luke Carroll started the day by winning the mile run with a time of 4:07.91, a season-best for the Illini and the third-fastest time in the Big Ten. Vanier Joseph notched a fifth-place finish in the 60m hurdles blue section with the fifth-fastest time in the Big Ten, while David Kendziera and Cam Viney placed fifth and sixth in the white section. Brandon Stryganek and Julian Smith each placed sixth in their respective sections of the 60m dash finals.
DJ Zahn placed 11th in the 400m, clocking a personal-best time of 47.82, which is currently the third-fastest in the Big Ten. In the 800m, Joe McAsey recorded the third-fastest time in the Big Ten (1:50.85) to place eighth, while Jannis Toepfer placed third in the 3,000m. Toepfer clocked a personal-best time of 8:08.85, which is ranked fourth in the Big Ten and sixth on Illinois' all-time top-10 list. The Illini also got strong performances from Liam Markham and Will Brewster in the event, with Markham shaving 30 seconds off of his personal-best time to place ninth and Brewster placing 10th. The 4x400m relay squad of Cam Viney, Stephon Pamilton, Kenneth Allen and DJ Zahn clocked a season-best time of 3:13.85 to place sixth.
"DJ Zahn was pretty good all weekend," said Turk. "He's starting to get into his mid-season form, as is David Kendziera. Dave was very competitive running with the finest group of hurdlers in the country outside of the NCAA Championships. Our distance crew is running like they have a chip on their shoulders. They performed well across the board."
George Wayda competed in his first-ever heptathlon and placed second with 5,040 points, which currently ranks fifth in the Big Ten and fifth on Illinois' all-time top-10 list. Branden Tanthavong set a season-best mark of 14.74m in the triple jump to place 10th, while Cody Klein notched a ninth-place finish in the pole vault.
"George Wayda was a little short of where we anticipated after day one, but he had a great second day finishing just off his personal-bests in the hurdles and setting a big personal-best in the pole vault," said Turk. "He finished the seven-event competition with the fifth-best performance in school history, so it was a great debut."
The Illini are back in action next weekend when they travel to Bloomington, Ind. for the Indiana Relays on Jan. 31-Feb. 1.
Illinois Top-10 Finishes:
60m Hurdles BLUE
60m Dash BLUE
60m Dash WHITE
Distance Medley Relay