Feb. 1, 2014
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Illinois men's track and field team competed at the Indiana Relays this weekend. Although the full squad did not compete, the Illini still managed to record 17 top-10 finishes, four season-high times and crack Illinois' top-10 list.
"We had a couple of break-through performances, but we still aren't hitting on all cylinders," said head coach Mike Turk. "Slowly, we are progressing as a team, but we still have a ways to go. The effort is there but we saw a few things this weekend that we need to improve upon. Some of our race tactics could have been better, for sure. The challenge is there for us and we need to continue to strive for our best performances."
On Friday, two Illini competed in unseeded field events, as Brandon Carrel placed 10th in the pole vault and David Kendziera recorded a seventh-place finish in the long jump. Cam Viney competed in his first-ever 600m race and placed 10th in the unseeded section, while Zebo Zebe placed third in the 600m invitational section. Zebe's time of 1:19.67 is a season high for the Illini. Malik Lee also competed in the invitational section of the 600m and placed fifth.
Brandon Stryganek won the 200m invitational section with a time of 21.56, while Liam Markham competed in the invitational mile run and shaved nearly 10 seconds off of his personal-best time to place fourth. Markham's time of 4:02.37 is a season-best for the Illini, the third-fastest in the Big Ten this season and the eighth-fastest in school history. Ian Barnett made his season debut in the invitational 3,000m run, and clocked a personal-best 8:20.42 to place sixth. In the final race of the day, the 4x400m relay team of Kenneth Allen, David Kendziera, Malik Lee an Zebo Zebe placed sixth.
"Liam Markham said he didn't feel great in the mile, but he looked and ran very well.," said Turk. "I think he showed he is closing in on breaking that 4:00 barrier in the mile. He was very competitive in a strong field and was the top finishing collegian. Brandon Stryganek won the 200m and, for the 2nd week in a row, beat the defending Big Ten Champion head to head. Brandon has found a nice level of consistency and I believe that consistency will lead to great performances towards the end of the season."
On Saturday, the Orange and Blue recorded two top-10 finishes in the invitational section of the pole vault as Cody Klein placed 3rd and Matt Bane placed seventh. Klein tied his season-best mark of 5.15m, while Bane recorded a season-high mark of 4.95m. Vanier Joseph placed second in the 60m hurdles with a time of 7.79, a season-high for the Illini and just off of his personal best.
Vanier Joseph also had a break-through performance this weekend," said Turk. "Vanier was slowed up to start the season by a minor nagging injury. This weekend he ran faster each round and his race in the final was big step up."
In the unseeded 5,000m run, Jereme Atchison and Brendan McDonnell placed third and fourth, respectively. Atchison clocked a 14:59.50 in his first-ever race at that distance, while McDonnell finished closely behind with a 14:59.69. Kenneth Allen placed eighth in the unseeded 400m dash, while Stephon Pamilton and DJ Zahn competed in the invitational section. Pamilton placed third with a time of 48.74, while Zahn finished fifth with a 48.82.
Next weekend, the Illini travel to Lincoln, Neb. for the Frank Sevigne Husker Invitational on Feb. 7-8.
Illinois Top-10 Finishes:
2. Vanier Joseph, 7.79
200m Dash (Inv.)
1. Brandon Stryganek, 21.57
8. Kenneth Allen, 49.36
10. Cam Viney, 1:22.73
4. Liam Markham, 4:02.37
6. Ian Barnett, 8:20.42
6. Allen, Kendziera, Lee, Zebe: 3:18.48
Pole Vault (unseeded)
10. Brandon Carrel, 4.50m
7. David Kendziera, 6.82m