Seven Illini Win Titles at Big Ten/SEC Challenge
March 24, 2013
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- The Fighting Illini men's track and field team opened the outdoor season Saturday, crowning seven champions at the Big Ten/SEC Challenge. Senior Ryan Lynn won the 800m, redshirt-freshman Tommy King finished first in the 1,500m, senior Jannis Topfer won the 3,000m, junior Vanier Joseph placed first in the 110m hurdles, redshirt-freshman Sam Telfer won the 3,000m steeplechase, freshman Mitch Mammoser took the pole vault crown while senior Brett Ramirez won the hammer throw.
"The weather wasn't great but the rain stayed away enough to get some things done," head coach Mike Turk said. "We knew the conditions wouldn't be conducive to big performances so we just wanted the guys to go out and compete and we did that well. We had a bunch of event winners and top three finishes. It was our first outdoor meet of the year and we have plenty to improve upon but overall we had a really good meet and I feel we are way ahead of where we were at this point last year."
In the sprints, junior Julian Smith had a successful day finishing second in the 100m with a time of 10.68 while sophomore DJ Zahn finished fourth overall with a time of 10.73. They both finished runner-up in their respective heats. Sophomore Brandon Stryganek and junior Stephon Pamilton finished fourth and fifth, respectively for the Illini in the 200m. Stryganek won his heat with a time of 21.55 while Pamtilon finished runner-up with a time of 21.61.
In the 110m hurdles, junior Joseph won his first event as an Illini in the outdoor season with a personal best time of 13.89 which ranks sixth best in the school record books. The Illini hurdler finished first in his heat.
"You could tell Vanier hasn't run a full flight of hurdles yet as he is a little tired at the end of the race," Turk said. "Still, that was a new personal best for him and an excellent early season time."
Lynn won the 800m with a time of 1:49.79 while junior Zebo Zebe finished runner-up in the event with a time of 1:50.64. The duo finished one-two in their heat. King took the 1,500m title with a time of 3:51.40. Two more Illini also finished in the top-five of the event with freshman Liam Markham finished fourth with a time of 3:54.86 and senior Jim Riddle crossing the line fifth with a time of 3:55.90.
"The 800m guys didn't miss a beat from the indoor season," Turk said. "Ryan ran a very solid race and Zebo is way ahead of where he was last year. Tommy continues to impress us with his competitiveness. It isn't always pretty but he runs tough."
The Illini finished first-fourth in the 3,000m as Topfer took the event crown after winning with a time of 8:16.71. Redshirt-freshman Ian Barnett (8:22.32) placed runner-up while freshman Will Brewster (8:29.08) took third and senior Jordan Hebert (8:33.51) finished fourth.
"Our guys were dominant in the 3,000m," Turk said. "Janis looked very strong and I think he is ready to open up in the steeplechase soon. I especially enjoyed seeing Ian and Will open up their seasons. Both guys ran a little conservatively and showed they have a lot left in the tank. I expect they will progress quickly."
Telfer won his first steeplechase race as an Illini, crossing the finish line with a time of 9:15.15.
"Sam performed well in the first steeplechase of his collegiate career," Turk said. "He ran really smart, waiting for the right time to make his move and when he did, he made a strong move and put the race away."
In the field events, freshman Mammoser won the pole vault title with a mark of 16-0 3/4 (4.90m). Junior Matt Bane finished fourth in the event, junior Cody Klein finished sixth and redshirt-freshman Blaze Galardy tied for ninth.
"Mitch took advantage of his opportunity to compete as did Blaze," Turk said. "Both guys jumped well and it was great to see those guys get rewarded for all of their hard work."
In his first hammer throw competition of the outdoor season, Ramirez took the title with a mark of 182-10 (55.70m). Sophomore Davis Fraker placed third in the event with a mark of 177-9 (54.10m).
"Brett performed very well in the cold and rain on Friday to win the hammer," Turk said. "He executed well and was consistent. He has really started to put it together since the end of indoors. I enjoy seeing seniors who are hungry and working to step up and do something special. Brett has that kind of determination."
The Illini will travel to West Lafayette, Ind., next weekend to compete in the Mike Poehlein Invitational on March 29-30.