Illini Earn 15 Spots in Tomorrow's Big Ten Finals
May 17, 2014
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Fighting Illini men's track and field team wrapped up day two of the Big Ten Outdoor Championships on Saturday. The Illini claimed 15 spots in tomorrow's running event finals and qualified finalists in all eight event trials. In addition, the Orange and Blue scored its first points of the weekend in three event finals. Brandon Noe, Ryan Michel, Corey Hammon and George Wayda contributed a total of 12 points to the team's overall score.
"We had a good day and got a lot done," said head coach Mike Turk. "We have faced some obstacles but this team has shown great resolve and resiliency. I am very pleased with our performances, but we have a long way to go. We had some guys in the field events that upset the performance list today, and to have 15 qualifiers on the track is amazing. Now, our big time athletes have to step up with big time performances for us to be successful."
Brandon Stryganek and Julian Smith finished one-two in the third heat of the 100m to automatically claim a spot in the finals. Stryganek crossed the finish line with a time of 10.50, while Smith (10.61) clocked his second-fastest time of the season in the trials. Stephon Pamilton, DJ Zahn and Kenneth Allen competed in the trials of the 400m on Saturday, with Zahn and Pamilton advancing to tomorrow's final. DJ Zahn clocked the fastest time of the day, 46.32, to win his heat, while Pamilton won his heat with a time of 46.63 to finish third overall. Stryganek, Zahn and Pamilton will also compete in tomorrow's 200m final. Stryganek placed second in his heat with his second-fastest time of the season, 21.18, with Zahn (21.23) and Pamilton (21.31) claiming the final two qualifying spots.
Vanier Joseph secured a spot in tomorrow's 110m hurdles finals after finishing second in his heat. The defending conference champion crossed the finish line with a time of 13.95 to place fourth overall, followed by David Kendziera in sixth. Kendziera qualified for the finals after clocking a personal-best time of 14.05, which is tied for the ninth-fastest time in school history. Cam Viney just missed a spot in the 110m hurdles finals after stumbling near the end of the race in the prelims, but bounced back in the 400m hurdles. The sophomore won his heat and clocked the day's fastest prelimary time, 51.30, to qualify for the finals. Kendziera (51.93) grabbed the final qualifying spot, finishing ninth with his second-fastest time of the season.
Joe McAsey won his heat to secure a spot in the 800m final. The sophomore finished third overall with a time of 1:50.71. Two Illini qualified for tomorrow's 1,500m finals as Graham Morris won his heat and clocked the fastest time of the day at 3:48.42, while Liam Markham's (3:59.95) fourth-place finish in his heat earned him a spot to compete for the title. The Orange and Blue will also be represented in the 4x100m relay final after the team of Julian Smith, Brandon Stryganek, Stephon Pamilton and DJ Zahn finished second in heat one of the trials.
Brandon Noe improved upon last year's seventh-place finish to take fifth in the discus. Noe threw his second-best mark of the season, 55.33m, to add four points for the Illini. The Orange and Blue also got points from Ryan Michel, who reached a personal-best mark of 2.06m in the high jump to place seventh and score two team points.
"Once again we had someone upset the performance chart," added Turk. "Brandon Noe competed with the best in the country today. This might be the best event in the conference, and certainly it is the best discus conference in the country. He stepped in on his first throw and nailed a good one. That's the way you step up! This was the best performance of his career. What can I say about Ryan Michel? He's a fifth-year senior who has been hurt much of his career. He wasn't seeded in the top 12 coming into the competition, but he stepped up with an all-time personal-best for seventh place. His contribution to our program and this team is immeasurable. I am so grateful for his effort and couldn't be happier for him. It's awesome to see a senior go out the way he did. This is a day he will remember forever, as will his coaches and teammates. This is the kind of performance championship programs are built upon."
Both Corey Hammon and George Wayda added points to Illinois' team total after recording top-eight finishes in the decathlon. Hammon improved upon last year's 11th-place finish to take fifth with a season-best total of 6,814 points. Hammon set two personal-bests in the overall event on Saturday, placing fifth in the 110m hurdles with a time of 15.16 and eighth in the discus with a mark of 36.36m. In his second-ever decathlon, George Wayda placed seventh to add two points to Illinois' score. The freshman totaled 6,779 points, which is the third-best decathlon performance in school history. Wayda set three personal-bests in the overall event on Saturday, including the javelin where he threw a mark of 55.45m to place second.
"Sometimes when the weather isn't great, the decathlon becomes a test of will and survival," said Turk. "Corey Hammon and George Wayda not only survived the competition, but steadily increased their performances throughout. The second day of the decathlon separates the men from the boys. Both guys moved up steadily today starting with personal best hurdle races. They just kept plugging along and showed tremendous focus throughout the competition. I am so proud of the effort they put out."
The third and final day of the Big Ten Outdoor Championships will begin at 9:00 a.m. CT tomorrow. Running event finals begin at 11:55 a.m. CT with the 4x100m relay, while finals for the javelin, shot put and triple jump will take place throughout the day.
Illinois Saturday Results at Big Ten Outdoor Championships
Team Results Through Eight Scored Events
High Jump (FINAL)
Hammer Throw (FINAL)
Saturday, May 18