Sophomore DJ Zahn and the Fighting Illini won the first annual HyVee Cup at Drake Relays.
April 27, 2013
DES MOINES, Iowa -- On the final day of the 104th Drake Relays, the Fighting Illini men's track and field team captured the first annual HyVee Cup. The squad totaled 36 team points with the five relays and crowned another individual champion as junior Vanier Josephwon the 110m hurdle title.
"What an awesome weekend we had at the Drake Relays," head coach Mike Turksaid. "We set a goal as a team to win the inaugural Hy-Vee Cup and we did it in convincing fashion. Aside from winning the cup, we came home with another Drake champion, three relay runner ups, a couple of top five relay times in the NCAA and several outstanding individual performances. We performed very well and most importantly, are healthy and looking forward to Big Tens."
The 4x100m relay of junior Julian Smith, sophomore Brandon Stryganek, junior Stephon Pamilton and sophomore DJ Zahnrecorded the fifth fastest time in school history, running a time of 39.33 and notching eight team points toward the Cup title. The quartet's time is the first to crack the school's top-five in the outdoor season. The Illini finished closely behind Alabama who took the title with a time of 38.97.
"That's the race we have been looking for all year," Turk said. "We'll take second place. Alabama has a couple of outstanding sprinters and they are probably a few weeks ahead of us because of the lousy weather and changes we have made to the lineup. It's been a trying year for our 4x100. No secret we have struggled but we kept the faith, believed in each other and put it together. I'm so proud of those guys."
In the 110m hurdles, Joseph kicked in a strong performance to win the title to keep the streak of Drake titles alive for the Orange and Blue. He captured the 67th individual Drake title with the victory and ran the second best time in school history (13.59).
"One of our goals is to have a Drake champion and Vanier broke the ice for us with an electric performance," Turk said. "He got out well, showed great composure during the middle of the race and just kept getting stronger through the end of the race. What a confidence booster for him and his performance was contagious to the rest of the team."
The 4x400m relay squad of Zahn, Cameron Viney, Juan Paul Greenand Pamilton finished runner-up with a season best time of 3:04.49. The time improves upon the fifth best in school history which was set a week ago at the LSU Alumni Gold Meet.
"We wanted that title so badly but came up a little short," Turk said. "Our effort and competitiveness was outstanding. We ran a new season best but in the end, Nebraska was just a little bit better than we were today. Congratulations to them for a great performance. We will get another shot at them at conference in two weeks and again at NCAAs."
The Illini began their success in the relays on Saturday morning in the sprint medley relay. The group placed third with a time of 3:18.57 to notch six team points. The crew also had solid individual showings in the 400m hurdles. Viney won his heat and placed seventh overall with a time of 51.89.
"Cam did a great job winning his heat," Turk said. "He competed very well. He is doing a great job of listening and applying the techniques Coach Wheatley is teaching him. He keeps getting better and better."
Orange and Blue showed improvement in the field events as sophomore Brandon Noe finished fourth in the discus with a mark of 177-10 (54.20m) which was just off his personal best. Teammate Brett Einbecker placed 21st overall with a mark of 150-0 (45.92m). In the hammer throw, senior Brett Ramirezthrew a season best 102-03 (58.60m) to place 12th in the event on Saturday.
"In the last few weeks, Brandon has gotten his technique locked in and he is learning how to compete on this level," Turk said. "He had a good opening throw that ensured him making the final and then he put together a solid series with his best two throws in attempts five and six to move up in the standings. He's been over 54 meters three weeks in a row. He is ready to throw further and this is the kind of performance that will give him a chance to do well in the conference and NCAAs. Brett Ramirezwas on today and threw a season best, just missing the finals. I'm happy with his performance and he showed he is on the upswing going into Big Tens."
The Illini will have a week off before traveling to Columbus, Ohio to compete in the Big Ten Championships on May 10-12.
Illinois Schedule at the Drake Relays
Saturday, April 27
110m H FINAL
1. Vanier Joseph13.59
16. Sam Telfer9:26.94
7. Cameron Viney51.89
12. Brett Ramirez192-03 (58.60m)
Friday, April 26
Thursday, April 25