Feb. 7, 2004
Illinois' women's track and field team won in impressive fashion today at the Carle/Health Alliance Invitational Saturday at the UI Armory. The won the five-team meet with 153 points, followed by Clemson with 113, California (106), Western Illinois with 57 and Illinois State with 41. The Illini also had two freshmen, Cassie Hunt and Yvonne Mensah, provisionally qualify for the NCAA Championships March 12-13 in Fayetteville, Ark. The Illini piled up 17 top-three finishes, including six first place finishers, led by Mensah and Hunt.
"I like where the team is going, they have been training very well lately," head coach Gary Winckler said. "The team put forth a great effort today and came up with a nice victory."
Mensah, already the Big Ten's top 60m hurdler, took over the top spot in the 60m dash as well when she ran 7.40s in the event's finals. That effort was also enough to provisionally qualify for the NCAA Championships. The Surrey, British Columbia native also provisionally qualified as a result of her 60m hurdle performance, blazing the track in 8.36s to win the event. Mensah was not done yet, as she also ran a leg in the Illini's first place 4x400m relay team.
"We have a great freshman and sophomore based group this year," Winckler said. "Today's performance was real solid, with a great performance by Cassie Hunt in the mile. The freshman are doing an outstanding job this year."
Hunt, who last week turned in the top 3,000m performance in the Big Ten, returned this week to provisionally qualify for the NCAA Championships, winning the mile in 4:48.84. Jaime Turilli and Stephanie Simms each ran sub-five minute miles, setting personal bests and finishing second and third to give the Illini a sweep of the event.
Winckler continued, "The milers were very impressive finishing 1-2-3 and each had personal bests. In past years our depth was with the sprinters, not long distance runners. This year we have quality with both, but our depth is with the long distance runners."
The Orange and Blue also finished strong in the 600m (Natalie Young, first place, Laura Gerke third), 400m (Shanna Pickett second, Kimetha Williams third), 800m (Audrey Lickhart, second), 3000m (Lisa Phillips, third), high jump (Kristina Jones, second), triple jump (Nina Henson, second), weight throw (Marie Hilmersson) and a first place finish in the distance medley relay.
Complete results can be found at www.fightingillini.com.
The Illini return to action Feb. 13 at the Iowa State Classic, before the Big Ten Championships take place Feb. 27-28 in Iowa City, Iowa.