Three Illini Qualify for NCAA Championships
May 30, 2014
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - The Fighting Illini men's track and field team qualified three for the NCAA Championships on day two of the NCAA West Preliminary Round. DJ Zahn, Joe McAsey and Cam Viney qualified for the national meet, while Vanier Joseph and Brandon Stryganek advanced to the quarterfinals in their respective events. Three Illini, as well as with both relay teams, will compete in first-round competition tomorrow.
Three Illini qualified for the NCAA Championships in their respective events. DJ Zahn (400m), Joe McAsey (800m) and Cam Viney (400m hurdles) will be making the trip to Eugene, Oregon on June 11-14. Zahn qualified for the national meet after clocking a time of 45.82, his second-fastest time of the season. McAsey secured a spot at nationals after finishing third in his heat. The sophomore crossed the finish line with a time of 1:49.02, while Viney's quarterfinal time of 50.75 earned him a spot in the 400m hurdles in Eugene.
"DJ has worked very hard for a long time and it's really paying off for him," said head coach Mike Turk. "He's gone to another level with his last three races all in the 45 second range. Joe was in a real dog fight. He continues to show a great finishing kick and fearless race tactics. He didn't get a chance to run in many races that went fast during the season, but I think he has benefitted from the experiences of many different tactical races. Cam was sloppy in his race. He missed his step on a couple of hurdles early and didn't hold his composure down the homestretch into the finish. That cost him valuable time and places. He has to learn from those mistakes, clean up his race and get better."
Both Vanier Joseph and Brandon Stryganek will compete for a spot at the NCAA Championships tomorrow. Joseph finished second in his heat with a time of 13.71 to qualify for the 110m hurdles quarterfinal, set to begin tomorrow at 7:05 p.m. CT. Stryganek moves on to the 200m quarterfinal after finishing second in his heat with a time of 20.92, his second-fastest time of the season. The junior will run the event tomorrow at 7:35 p.m. CT.
"We decided not to run Brandon Stryganek in the 100m and take our chances in the 200m," said Turk. "I think it was a good move. Brandon looked fresh and ran one of the most complete races I've ever seen him run. He will have a chance to push through in the open tomorrow."
Davis Fraker missed qualifying for the national meet by one spot, placing 13th in the hammer throw. The junior threw a mark of 61.47m, his best mark of the season. Stephon Pamilton clocked a 46.46 in his final 400m race at Illinois. The senior still has the opportunity to advance to the NCAA Championships as a member of both relay teams, as both the 4x100m and 4x400m squads will compete in quarterfinal races tomorrow.
"It's tough to finish 13th here, but Davis competed very well and had a season best," said Turk. "While it is a disappointment, he can use this as motivation for next year knowing he is well capable of scoring at the NCAA finals. Stephen got out great and just didn't finish as strong as we are used to seeing him do. It's a tough break for him as a senior, but hopefully he can lead both our relays through tomorrow."
David Kendziera's impressive freshman season came to a close on Friday. The Big Ten point-scorer finished 22nd in the quarterfinal of the 400m hurdles with a time of 51.66, and just missed qualifying for a spot in the 110m hurdles quarterfinal. Kendziera finished 26th, two spots from advancing, with a time of 14.23.
"For Dave, it was the end of a terrific freshman season," said Turk. "He's learned a lot and come a long way. His future is very bright."
A full list of Illinois results and the remaining schedule of Illini competition can can be found below. Illinois compete in the third and final day of the NCAA West Preliminary Round on Saturday, beginning with the discus at 3:00 p.m. CT, with running events slated for a 6:00 p.m. CT start. Live results along with a full recap can be found on fightingillini.com.
Illinois Friday Results at NCAA West Preliminary Round
Saturday, May 31