Stephon Pamilton and the 4x400m relay squad earned first team All-America honors at the NCAA Championships.
July 19, 2013
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- The Fighting Illini had a successful 2013 season, highlighted by the 4x400m relay squad recording the highest finish at nationals since 1994 (fifth) to earn All-America honors. In his second year as head coach, Mike Turk led Illinois to a second place finish at the Big Ten indoor championships, the highest finish in program history since the 2000 season, and fourth at the outdoor championships. The Orange and Blue collected eight total All-America accolades, along with four individual Big Ten titles.
Illinois began their indoor season in January at the Illini Open, where the team collected seven individual event titles. The Fighting Illini returned to the UI Armory a week later and captured the Illini Classic title, winning by a 133.5 point margin.
The Orange and Blue then traveled to Bloomington, Ind., for the IU Relays, where senior Graham Morris broke the 22-year old school record in the mile. Morris ran a time of 4:00.47 and was the first Illini to to break into the programs top-10 list in the event since the 1995 season. Five other Illini won titles in Bloomington, including sophomore Brandon Stryganek in the 200m, senior Malcolm Taylor in the 600m, junior Ryan Lynn and freshman Luke Carroll in the 800m and junior Matthew Bane in the pole vault. The 4x400m relay team of Taylor, freshman Juan-Paul Green, sophomore DJ Zahn and junior Stephon Pamilton also notched a first place finish.
The squad split at the beginning of February, with sprinters and throwers heading to New York for the Armory Collegiate Invitational, and the distance runners traveling to South Bend, Ind., for the Meyo Invitational. At the Meyo Invite, Morris reset the school record in the mile, beating his previous time by three-tenths of a second to finish second in the prestigious race.
A few weeks before the conference meet, the majority of the team traveled to Geneva, Ohio for the SPIRE Invitational, highlighted by Stryganek, junior Vanier Joseph and freshman Cam Viney winning titles in their respective events.
On the last weekend in February, the Orange and Blue returned to Geneva for the Big Ten indoor championships, where they finished second with 87.50 points. The finish was the highest since the 2000 season. Pamilton took home the Big Ten title in the 40m and recorded the fastest time of the day at 46.07, while Green finished the race in fourth. Illinois' second conference title came from Stryganek in the 60m when he crossed the line with a time of 6.71, the third fastest time in school history. Joseph finished runner-up in the 60m hurdles, while Viney finished close behind in forth. Morris placed fourth in the mile, while both senior Steve Monte and sophomore Corey Hammon crushed the heptathlon school record.
At the NCAA Indoor Championships, the distance medley relay squad of Pamilton, Morris, Lynn and senior Kyle Engnell earned All-America honors after finishing seventh with a time of 9:35.56. The 4x400m relay team of Zahn, Taylor, Green and Pamilton finished ninth, just one spot away from earning All-America honors. The team finished tied for 49th overall.
The Orange and Blue began their outdoor campaign a few weeks later at the Big Ten/SEC Challenge, where seven Illini won event titles. The following weekend, Illinois won the Bill Cornell Spring Classic, scoring 161 points and winning five event titles. Zahn finished first in the 100m and 200m, and also ran on the two winning relay teams. The 4x400m squad of Zahn, Green, Lynn and junior Zebo Zebe won the title with a time of 3:16.78, while the 4x100m team of Zahn, Stryganek, Vanier and junior Julian Smith crossed the finish line with a time of 40.43 to take first place. In the field events, Bane took the pole vault crown.
Four titles highlighted the Auburn Tiger Track Classic as redshirt freshman Ian Barnett ran the fifth fastest 5,000m time in school history, finishing with a time of 13:58.79. It was the first time an Illini distance runner has cracked the school's top-10 list in the event since 2007. Lynn won his second 800m title of the outdoor season, senior Jannis Topfer ran the ninth fastest 3,000m steeplechase time in school history (8:54.48) and the 4x400m relay were victorious.
The next week, the Illini traveled to Macomb, Ill., where they won the Lee Calhoun Memorial Invitational. Freshman Will Brewster set a meet record to win the 3,000m, finishing with a time of 8:30.30. Junior Cody Klein and freshman Mitch Mammoser tied the meet record of 5.05m in the pole vault, finishing first and second, respectively. Viney took the 400m hurdles crown while Stryganek won the 100m.
The team split up again the following weekend, with the 4x400m relay squad (Zahn, Viney, Green, Pamilton) highlighting the LSU Alumni Gold Meet, finishing in first place with the then fifth fastest time in the nation, while four distance runners set lifetime bests at the Mt. SAC Relays. A week later, at the 104th Drake Relays, the Illini captured the first annual HyVee Cup, with Joseph winning the 110m hurdles title. The Cup was comprised of points based on the teams finish in the 4x1, 4x4, 4x8, sprint medley and distance medley relay.
Illinois placed fourth at the Big Ten outdoor championships in Columbus, Ohio., finishing with 86 points. Joseph won his first Big Ten outdoor title in the 110m hurdles, crossing the finish line with a time of 13.70. It's the forth consecutive year an Illini has won that event. Pamilton gave the Illini their second individual champion, finishing the 400m in a time of 46.06. The 4x400m relay team of Zahn, Viney, Green and Pamilton crossed the finish line with a time of 3:09.00 to finish second while Klein was the runner-up in the pole vault.
Following the conference meet, the Illini sent 19 athletes in 14 events to the NCAA West Preliminary Round of Championships and qualified 11 athletes in three events to the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Ore. Both Pamilton and Green qualified in the 400m, while senior Hunter Mickow was the first Illini to advance in the 10,000m since 2007. The 4x400m relay team won their heat to qualify for the national meet and the 4x100m relay team qualified for the fourth consecutive year.
The Illini finished the NCAA Championships with 10 All-Americans, tying for 49th overall. The 4x400m relay squad earned first team All-America honors, finishing fifth with a time of 3:04.83. The quartet of Zahn, Viney, Green and Pamilton recorded the highest finish in the event since 1994. Both Green and Mickow earned second team All-America honors in their individual events as Green ran a lifetime best in the 400m (46.18) while Mickow placed 15th in the 10,000m. The 4x100 squad of Smith, Stryganek, Pamilton and Zahn also earned second team honors as they finished 13th overall with a time of 39.76, the second fastest time of the season.
After the collegiate season, five Illini traveled to Des Moines, Iowa to compete in either the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships of the USA Junior Track and Field Championships. Morris (1,500m) and Viney (400m H) ran in the senior meet, while Brewster (10,000m), Green (400m) and Mammoser (pole vault) competed in the junior meet. Green placed second in the 400m to advance to the 2013 Pan Am Junior Championships where he will represent Team USA in Medellin, Columbia in late August.