Illinois Wins Three Event Titles at Kentucky Relays
April 19, 2014
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The Illinois men's track and field competed at multiple events over the weekend, as the majority of the team competed at the Kentucky Relays in Lexington, Ky., while a small distance group traveled to California. At the Kentucky Relays, the Illini captured three event titles, while the team totaled 11 top-three finishes over the weekend. 11 personal-bests were set, while three Illini entered Illinois all-time top-10 lists.
"We had a real solid weekend," said head coach Mike Turk. "After we had such a big weekend at home last week and with Drake Relays next week, I was concerned about us keeping up the intensity this weekend. The guys stayed very focused and put forth a great effort."
At the Kentucky Relays, three-time Big Ten champion Stephon Pamilton placed first in the 400m with a season-best time of 46.53, which currently ranks third in the conference. Kenneth Allen also competed in the event and placed fourth with a time of 47.60, just off of his personal best. Cam Viney placed second in the 400m hurdles with a time of 50.59, which is just off of his personal best and is currently the second-fastest time in the Big Ten this season. David Kendziera took sixth in the event with a time of 52.88. Viney and Kendziera also competed in the 110m hurdles, with Kendziera clocking a personal-best time of 14.48 to place fifth while Viney finished sixth. DJ Zahn also notched a second-place finish for the Illini, clocking a personal-best time of 21.10 in the 200m. Julian Smith finished next with a time of 21.49 to take fifth, while Maurice Watkins placed 10th with a personal-best time of 21.90.
"Stephon ran great," said Turk. "He was in control from the gun and ran a very relaxed race. He dropped some time and I know he has a lot more left in him as we head into the end of the season. No doubt his best is still ahead of him. Cam uncharacteristically got out leaned at the line, but he's stringing together some consistent performances at a high level. His time today currently puts him at number seven in the country. We gave DJ a meet off from running the 400m and he responded with a terrific 200m into a slight headwind. While his time was good, the impressive thing was the way he was running down Moshert from Purdue. That guy was the Big Ten indoor 200m champ and an NCAA All-American, and DJ probably would have beaten him if the race was a meter further."
The Illini recorded three top-10 finishes in the 100m dash, led by Brandon Stryganek. The junior placed third with a time of 10.49, followed by DJ Zahn (10.63) and Vanier Joseph (10.69) in fifth and seventh, respectively. Zebo Zebe set a new personal-best in the 800m, clocking a 1:50.51 to place fifth, while Josh Jones (1:52.10) placed eighth. Brendan McDonnell placed seventh in the 5,000m with a personal best time of 14:50.50. Illinois also found success in both relays, as the 4x100m relay squad of Julian Smith, Brandon Stryganek, Fuad Akinbiyi and DJ Zahn placed first while the 4x400m team of Maurice Watkins, David Kendziera, Cam Viney and Zebo Zebe placed third.
"I was pleased with the way we ran in the 100m, Stryganek and Smith especially," said Turk. "Again, we ran into a swirling wind that slowed the times down but those guys executed their races and competed well. We ran an alternate on the third leg in the 4x100m relay. Fuad Akinbiyi ran really well filling in for Stephon, who we just decided to lighten his workload. The exchanges could have been a little better, but I can't complain too much about the wind and a good time."
Cody Klein highlighted the field events for the Illini, placing first in the pole vault with a personal-best mark of 5.30m. The mark is tied for the sixth-best in school history and is currently the second-best in the Big Ten this season. Blaze Galardy also notched a top-10 finish in the event, placing eighth with a mark of 4.90m. Branden Tanthavong placed second in the triple jump for the second time this season with a mark of 14.73m, while Brandon Noe took second in the discus after throwing 54.70m. The Illini notched two top-five finishes in the javelin as Ben Dodds (58.68m) took third and Aaron Wilks (57.66m) placed fourth, while George Wayda finished sixth with a personal-best mark of 49.67m.
"Wow, what a great performance by Cody," said Turk. "An outdoor PR that puts him at number six on the all-time list. Cody has struggled since his injury indoors. We've talked about cranking up the intensity as his senior season winds down. He came with a terrific attitude and was like a new guy out there. It's a great time for him to put it together. Cody is definitely our field event athlete of the meet. In the discus, Brandon showed that he is becoming a great competitor. He didn't throw real well in the prelims. In fact, it was his worst three throws of the year. However, he put it together on his first two throws in the final and moved all the way up into second place. That kind of performance takes a high degree of concentration and more than anything, confidence."
The distance crew of Jannis Toepfer, Graham Morris, Jordan Hebert, Liam Markham, Joe McAsey and Ian Barnett had a successful weekend in California. McAsey placed third in the 800m, while Liam Markham took fourth in the 1,500m. Markham clocked a personal-best time of 3:42.33, which currently leads the Big Ten and is the fifth-fastest time in school history. Morris also competed in the 1,500m and set a new personal-best, clocking a 3:46.22 which is currently ranked fifth in the conference. Jannis Toepfer placed fifth in the 10,000m with a time of 29:13.07, which is the sixth-fastest in school history and second in the Big Ten this season. Hebert (30:02.52) placed 16th in the 10,000m, while Barnett (13:59.65) took ninth in the 5,000m.
The Illini are back in action next weekend when they travel to Des Moines, Iowa for the prestigious Drake Relays.
Illinois Top-Three Finishes