Men's Cross Country, Track & Field
Illini Find Success at Spire/Husky

Sophomore Brandon Stryganek was one of 20 Illini to set a personal best over the weekend.
Sophomore Brandon Stryganek was one of 20 Illini to set a personal best over the weekend.

Feb. 9, 2013

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Geneva, Ohio -- The majority of the Illinois men's track and field team competed against most of the Big Ten teams at the Spire Invitational this weekend, highlighted by three event titles, 17 season bests, 13 lifetime bests and six all-time top 10 performances. The small crew that traveled to Seattle, Wash., to compete at the Husky Classic also set three personal bests and two all-time top 10 performances.

"We had a great weekend with a bunch of new personal and season best performances," head coach Mike Turk said. "We continue to compete well. I think this weekend will prove to be a springboard towards a big team performance at conference in two weeks. The thing I'm really pleased with is our attitude. The guys are performing well but they expect more and I know there is more we can accomplish. We haven't peaked."

Sophomore Brandon Stryganek had a great weekend, winning the 200m on Saturday with a career best time of 21.08. Stryganek's time is second fastest in school history and third in the Big Ten. Sophomore D.J. Zahn and junior Julian Smith also ran in the 200m, as Zahn set a personal best time of 21.62 to finish fifth. Also finding success today was junior Stephon Pamilton in the 400m. Pamilton set the sixth-fastest time in school history after finishing fourth in the event with a time of 46.51. The junior's time currently leads the Big Ten. Juan Paul Green also set a career best time in the 400m, finishing sixth with a time of 47.18.

"Brandon ran a lifetime best in the 200m," Turk said. "That was faster than he ran outdoors last year, yet he isn't satisfied. Same thing for Stephon in the 400m. Those two guys are really pushing hard to meet their own expectations. It's a very healthy environment and culture."

Both Illini hurdlers performed well this weekend, as Vanier won the 60m hurdles title with a time of 7.82. The time set a new meet record and ties Sherman Armstrong as the second fastest mark in school history. Freshman Cam Viney recorded the fastest qualifying time of 7.97 to advance to the finals where he finished third with a time of 7.94. Viney also finished first and set a big personal best in the unseeded 400m race, crossing the line with a time of 48.65.

"Vanier bounced back from a disappointing hurdle final last week with a win and a new season best," Turk said. "Cam had a really good weekend. Big personal best in the 400m, two solid hurdle races and he filled a big gap on our 4x4 that allowed us to run much faster than we have thus far."

In the 600m, junior Zebo Zebe ran a season best time to finish fourth with a time of 1:19.79 while also setting a personal best in the 800m. Zebe finished seventh in the event with a time of 1:51.66. Sophomore Josh Jones ran a lifetime best in the event as well, finishing fifth with a time of 1:51.06. Senior Kyle Engnell set a personal best in the mile for the second consecutive week, placing sixth with a time of 4:05.98 while both junior Jordan Hebert (14:25.84) and redshirt-freshman Paul Zeman (14:32.19) set lifetime bests in the 5,000m.

"The distance guys showed very well too," Turk said. "Josh came out of nowhere in the 800m with a huge personal best. It was really rewarding to see him get that result because he works hard and is a really valuable member of our team. Kyle showed a very strong finish and had a huge personal record in the mile. Same thing for Jordan in the 5,000m. That was better than his outdoor lifetime best."

The 4x400m relay team of Zahn, Viney, Green and Pamilton turned in the fifth-best time in school history on Saturday, finishing third overall with a time of 3:08.55.

In the field events, Cody Klein finished second, matching his personal best mark of 17-4 1/2 (5.30m) and setting a new meet record. Josh Hodur placed 10th with a jump of 16-0 3/4 (4.90m) while freshman Mitch Mammoser set a career best mark with the same height. Davis Fraker set season bests in both the shot put and the weight throw. Fraker finished 12th in the shot put with a mark of 56-8 3/4 (17.29m) and seventh in the weight throw with a throw of 64-6 1/2 (19.62m). Redshirt-freshman Nathan Loe's performance in the weight throw, cracked the all-time top 10, finishing with a mark of 60-0 1/4 (18.29m) to sit at fifth best in program history.

"Field events were led by Cody in the vault," Turk said. "With Bane out due to illness, Cody really stepped up. He's close to a big jump. Davis had two season bests. He has slowly worked his way back into the mix of things and he still isn't at fuels strength. He looked much more explosive today."

Out of the six Illini runners competing at the Husky Classic, three set personal bests with two cracking the top-10 lists. Last night in the 5,000m, senior Hunter Mickow was tripped halfway through the race but came back and set a lifetime best time of 14:26.30 while senior Jim Riddle opened his season in the race, finishing with a time of 14:25.00.

"Even though Hunter got tripped up midway through the race, the fact that he still ran a personal best says something about how he's running this year," assistant coach Jake Stewart said. "It was Jim's season opener and it was a good place to start. He hasn't raced since May, so it was nice to see him competing for Illinois again."

Freshman Luke Carroll ran well in his second mile of the season, finishing with a personal best time of 4:04 while senior Ryan Lynn placed fourth in his heat to run a new lifetime best 800m time of 1:49.29 which ranks 10th best in school history. Graham Morris continues his success during the indoor season, as he ran his first 3,000m race this season. The senior finished with a time of 8:05.15 which is second fastest in program history.

"Luke bounced back nicely from last weekend," Stewart said. "It was good to have a solid performance heading into the last few weeks of the indoor season. Ryan had a great day in a really competitive race. He moved well over the last 200m. Graham continues to grow as an athlete and competed well in a very good field. It was a solid performance and the consistency has been there over the last three weeks."

The Illini will have a week off before traveling back to Geneva, Ohio to compete in the 2013 Big Ten Indoor Championships on Friday, Feb. 22 and Saturday, Feb. 23.