Junior Stanley Azie anchored the record-setting relay to the NCAA final along with qualifying individually for the 100m dash final.
June 8, 2011
DES MOINES, Iowa - On Wednesday at the NCAA Championships, the Illinois men's track and field team qualified for the NCAA final round in all three events in action. The Illini 4x100m relay broke a pair of records and earned a spot in the event final with a time of 38.72. The team of junior Andrew Riley, senior Azeez Shogbuyi, sophomore Josh Zinzer and junior Stanley Azie excelled on the blue track at Drake Stadium for the second time this season, breaking a 19-year-old Big Ten record of 38.93 by Ohio State in 1992 and eclipsing their own school record of 39.17 set earlier this year at the Drake Relays.
Individually, Azie became the first Illini to qualify for the NCAA 100m final in 27 years since Lester Washington in 1984, and senior Cody Wisslead gave Illinois its first final qualifier in the 400m hurdles since Abe Jones and Adrian Walker in 2004.
"It was a great day for the Illini," interim head coach Mike Turk said. "It was a great start to the meet with an amazing race by the 4x100m relay. They were fabulous today and will just have to remain focused for the final. I also couldn't be happier for our two seniors (Wisslead and Shogbuyi) who will represent us in event finals."
Riley sprinted out of the blocks to set up the record run before handing the baton to Shogbuyi, who maintained the pace among the leaders. After the second handoff, Zinzer kept the Illini at the front of the pack before Azie took the stick for the anchor leg and held off Florida State (38.75) for the heat victory. The Orange and Blue, who will run in the final on Saturday at 12:11 p.m., clocked the third-fastest time during the semifinal behind Texas A&M (38.38) and Florida (38.49) and the No. 5 time in the NCAA this season.
"The teamwork was top shelf on the relay," Turk said. "We had the best handoffs we have had all year and that was the difference."
In the semifinal of the 100m dash, Azie clocked the second-fastest mark of his career with a time of 10.34, which ranked seventh overall among the eight qualifiers. The Bolingbrook, Ill., will race in the event final on Friday at 7:02 p.m. and become the first Illini to finish among the top-eight place winners in two NCAA events since Marko Koers (800m, 1,500m) in 1996.
"Stanley continues to show his competitiveness," Turk said. "His development from a walk-on to an NCAA finalist is incredible. Hopefully, he can clean up his start a little in the final."
After just missing the NCAA final by two spots a year ago, senior Cody Wisslead made sure the semifinal of the 400m hurdles would not be his final race this season. Wisslead notched the eighth and final qualifying spot after running 50.34, just a hundredth shy of his personal best in the event. The Sciota, Ill., native will close out his stellar season in the event final on Friday night at 6:45 p.m.
"Cody wan very aggressively, which is exactly what he needed to do," Turk said. "He went out a little faster than usual and still had his trademark strong finish.
Illinois will resume action at the NCAA Championships on Thursday in a pair of events. Azie will run in the semifinal of the 200m at 5:45 p.m. while Riley will compete in the semifinal of the 110m hurdles, as he continues his NCAA title defense. Full results and a recap can be found on fightingillini.com, and live updates will be made at twitter.com/IlliniTrackXC.
Illinois Wednesday Results at NCAA Championships
Q/q = qualified for NCAA final round
7. Stanley Azie 10.34 q
400m Hurdles (Semifinal)
8. Cody Wisslead 50.34 q