Illini Finish Second at Big Ten Indoor Championships
Feb. 23, 2013
Geneva, Ohio -- The Fighting Illini men's track and field team finished second at the Big Ten Championships, totaling 87.50 points. The finish is the highest in program history since the 2000 season.
"I am extremely proud of our coaches and team," head coach Mike Turk said. "We left everything we had on the track. In the end, we were close but it wasn't enough. I am very happy with the response of our athletes. They handled themselves with class and dignity. They had a visceral response to defeat that is healthy for the future of our program. There will be a next time and we will win our share of championships."
Stephon Pamilton's victory gave the Illini their first Big Ten champion of the weekend after he recorded the fastest time of the day with a time of 46.07 in the 400m to earn his first conference crown in the event. Freshman Juan Paul Green notched the 10th best time in school history as he finished fourth with a career-best time of 47.03.
"Both Stephon and Juan ran a great race," Turk said. "They both ran personal bests. They have both been so coachable and took to heart what coach Wheatley has been telling them. Stephon was dominant today."
Illinois' second Big Ten title came from sophomore Brandon Stryganek in the 60m dash after he crossed the finish line with a time of 6.71 which remains as the third fastest time in school history.
"Brandon's performance was really special in these championships," Turk said. "He ran an outstanding 60m final. His execution was superb. That was his first individual conference title and I am sure there will be more. He'll always remember that performance."
In the 200m, Stryganek finished second with a time of 21.16 while Pamilton crossed the finish line closely behind with a time of 21.17 to place third. The Orange and Blue received 14 team points from both Illini athletes in the 200m alone.
"Brandon and Stephon ran their hearts out," Turk said. "The strength of our sprint crew really showed in the 200 with Brandon moving up after winning the 60m and Stephon dropping down after winning the 400m. I know both guys wanted the win, but they were in one of the best races of the day and it's hard to be disappointed with a 2-3 finish."
In the hurdles, Vanier Joseph placed second with the same time he recorded in yesterday's competition, 7.74 which is second best in the Illinois record books. Freshman Cam Viney scored five team points for the Orange and Blue after he finished fourth with a new personal best time of 7.85 and remains fourth best in school history.
"Vanier was a little late getting out of the blocks, but he closed in the middle and finished well. I believe he showed he is ready to move on to the national level in the next two weeks. Cam ran his best most complete race of the year in finishing in fourth with a new personal best. He is a great competitor and is really showed."
The Illini also scored team points in the mile as Graham Morris finished fourth with a time of 4:03.35 to add five team points for the Orange and Blue. In the 5,000m seeded race, senior Hunter Mickow set a new personal best with a time of 14:19.82 while senior Jim Riddle notched a season best time of 14:23.17, which is a season best. Junior Jordan Hebert and redshirt freshman Paul Zeman also competed in the 5K race, finishing with a time of 14:28.20 and 14:54.64, respectively.
"Graham really stepped up for us," Turk said. "We haven't scored in the mile for a long time. He ran a great tactical race and set himself up for a good finish by being smart and getting in position. The third 400 was really key for him. Those team points were huge and he helped set a tone for the day."
"It was simply amazing what Steve and Corey did," Turk said. "Both guys crushed the school record. We stressed consistency and staying even tempered throughout the competition. In the end, they both put together a bunch of personal bests."
In the weight throw, Davis Fraker finished seventh with a throw of 20.67m to add two team points for the Orange and Blue.
"Davis didn't personal best but his contribution can't be ignored," Turk said. "One of his best performances. His execution was really good. He has been coming back from mono and I know he's not 100% yet. However he went and competed. I told him next time he won't go into the fight with one hand tied behind his back."
The meet came down to the 4x400m relay squad as the Illini trailed Wisconsin by just 1.50 points. The Orange and Blue were tripped on the final exchange as Pamilton fell. Stephon then was tripped up with less than a lap left and the relay squad did not finish.
"The message is simple," Turk said. "We didn't get it done but it's not on any one person. We are a family and we succeed and fail together. I am going to send the squad to a last chance meet next week. They are going to get right back in there and I bet they will qualify for the NCAA meet."
A full list of Illinois' Saturday results can be found below along with the final team scores from the meet. Wisconsin on the Big Ten title with 90 total points, just 3.50 more than the Orange and Blue.
Final Big Ten Team Standings
Illinois Saturday Results at Big Ten Indoor Championships
60m Hurdles (FINAL)