Sophomore Ryan Lankford will make his Illini track debut on Saturday, competing in the 60m and long jump.
Feb. 3, 2012
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - After a strong showing with a school record broken, four first-place finishes and five second-place finishes at the Mark Colligan Memorial Invitational, the Fighting Illini look to host their final indoor meet of the 2012 season. The Orange and Blue Open will take place on Saturday, Feb. 4th with field events beginning at 10:00 a.m. CT, and running evens starting at 12:00 p.m. CT. at the UI Armory. Saturday's meet will also include recognition of 16 seniors with the short ceremony taking place around 4:30 p.m.
"We want to see some people do some things a little different," head coach Mike Turk said. "We're going to be running some people in different races and we want to see people be sharp."
The Illini welcome four other teams to the Orange and Blue Open, including Western Kentucky, Western Illinois, Vincennes College and Arkansas State. The track events in the afternoon session will be on a rolling schedule with the women slated to run first in each event followed by the men.
Making his track career debut on Saturday is Ryan Lankford, the sophomore wide receiver of the football team. Lankford will run the 60m as well as compete in the long jump. Running with Lankford in the 60m will be senior All-American Stanley Azie along with freshman DJ Zahn.
"He is a fantastic track athlete, and was one of the national leaders in the long jump in high school and among the national leaders in the sprints," Turk said. "He's got a great attitude, enthusiastic, coachable and he wants to help the team."
Senior Cody Wisslead along with Nicholas Haab and Gary Ford will headline the 60m hurdles race while freshman Maurice Watkins will be the lone Illini in the 200m. Four other Orange and Blue runners will accompany Watkins in the 400m which is scheduled to start at 2:05 p.m. Freshman Josh Jones and sophomore Zebo Zebe will run the 600m for the Fighting Illini to round out the middle distances.
Freshman Ian Barnett will be making his home debut as an Illini in the mile. Barnett will be joined by freshman Joe McAsey and senior Graham Farnsworth with the race starting at approximately 1:30 p.m. Other distance runners competing in the 3,000 include junior Nathan Bohn and freshman Mark Donohue.
The field events crew has had a great start to the season and expects to continue that success this weekend. Sophomore, Cody Klein, who set a new personal record at the last home meet, will lead the way in pole vault. Also vaulting will be senior Alex Baldwin and four other Illini. Junior Ryan Michel, freshman James Davenport and freshman Corey Hammon will represent the Orange and Blue in the high jump along with Branden Tanthavong in the triple jump. Rounding out the field events will be Brandon Noe in the shot put along with Brett Einbecker in both the shot and the weight throw.
The Illini are back in action next weekend as the crew splits. The distance crew heads to the Flotrak Husky Classic in Seattle, Wa., while the rest of the team travels to Fayetteville, Ark., to compete in the Tyson Invitational.