Both Relays Earn NCAA Bid to NCAA Championships
May 25, 2013
AUSTIN, Texas -- On the final day of the NCAA West Preliminary Round, the Illini qualified eight more athletes to the NCAA Championships. The 4x100m relay advanced to nationals for the fourth year in a row while the 4x400m relay will compete at NCAAs.
The Illini boasted entries in 14 events at the NCAA West Preliminary Round and advanced to nationals in four of them. The events include Hunter Mickow (10,00m), Stephon Pamilton (400m), Juan Paul Green (400m), 4x100m relay of junior Julian Smith, sophomore Brandon Stryganek, Pamilton and sophomore DJ Zahn and the 4x400m relay crew of Zahn, freshman Cameron Viney, Green and Pamilton.
In the third heat of the 4x100m relay, the Orange and Blue team of Smith, Stryganek, Pamilton and Zahn automatically qualified for the national meet with a time of 39.83. It's the fourth straight year a squad has represented the Illini at the NCAA Championships as the team earned All-America honors last year.
"I feel great about our 4x100m relay," Turk said. "Brandon still isn't 100% but he was good enough and the other three guys were terrific. I'm very pleased with our exchanges as the guys have worked hard and showed tremendous improvement during the season. This is the fourth year in a row we have qualified our 4x1 and we have done it with different people and line ups each year. In fact, this years team has four completely different people from the team that was third in the finals two years ago. I think that is something special for our program."
The 4x400m relay crew won the last heat of the night in a time of 3:05.53. It was the third quickest of the night, behind Texas A&M and Arkansas. It's the highest the 1,600m relay has finished at the prelims in 10 years.
"All four guys ran great to pull off a heat win," head coach Mike Turk said. "We set a goal at the beginning of the year to get both of our relays qualified for the NCAA finals and we did it. It's quite an accomplishment especially for a school in a northern climate."
In the quarterfinal of the 110m hurdles, junior Vanier Joseph narrowly missed a qualifying spot by placing 13th with a time of 13.88. With his lifetime best time of 13:59 to win the 2013 Drake Relays, Joseph has achieved the USATF "A" Standard for the World Championship Trials in Des Moines, Iowa, on June 19-23.
"Vanier did not run his best race tonight," Turk said. "He didn't get out if the blocks well, started pressing ad broke down the last 1/3 of the race. I am so proud of the way Vanier has handled the whole situation this week, dealing with a family emergency and still competing this week. I'm just heartbroken for him right now."
In his first trip to the NCAA first round, redshirt-freshman Ian Barnett competed in the 5,000m. Barnett ran in a loaded heat including NCAA champion Lawi Lalang and 2012 Olympian Diego Estrada. The Glen Ellyn, Ill., native finished with a time of 14:51.18.
Junior Matthew Bane set a new lifetime best on Saturday in the pole vault, finishing 17th with a mark of 17-4 1/2 (5.30m). The mark moves the Richmond, Ill., native into sole possession of sixth best in school history. Teammate Cody Klein placed 25th with a mark of 17-0 3/4 (5.20m) which ties his personal best in the event.
In the hammer throw, sophomore Davis Fraker placed 24th overall with a throw of 196-01 (59.78m).
The Illini will have a week off before the 11 athletes travel to the 2013 NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore., on June 5-8.
Illinois Saturday Results at NCAA West Preliminary Round