Feb. 28, 2009
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Juniors Angela Bizzarri and Aja Evans both turned in second-place finishes for the Illinois women's track and field team at the Big Ten Indoor Championships, highlighting a successful first day of competition at Indiana's Harry Gladstein Fieldhouse. The Orange and Blue also qualified eight competitors for tomorrow's finals, standing tied for fifth after the first day of competition.
"The people who we expected to qualify for finals did, and Angela (Bizzarri) and Aja (Evans) had very strong performances," head coach Tonja Buford-Bailey said. "I am especially proud of our 400m group in advancing three to the final. If we put things together tomorrow we will be in good shape for a high placing."
Michigan and Minnesota stand tied for first after the first day of competition, each scoring 42 points. Penn State is third (32), while Indiana is fourth (27.5) and the Illini and Wisconsin are tied for fifth (23).
Bizzarri led for most of the 3,000m in a close race with Wisconsin's Gwen Jorgensen and Penn State's Bridget Franek. In a sprint to the finish, Bizzarri outkicked Franek to finish second with a time of 9:20.77. Jorgensen won the race in 9:20.42 to edge out Bizzarri.
Evans, the reigning outdoor Big Ten champion in the shot put, marked 50-7 1/4 in the shot on Saturday to take also take second. Indiana's Tiffany Howard won the event with a throw of 51-11 1/4.
Junior Alecia Beckford-Stewart had a career-best performance in the pentathlon, scoring 3,840 points to finish fourth. It was her highest placing at a Big Ten Championships in the multi-events, and the first time she has competed the pentathlon this season. Beckford-Stewart scored the most points in the 60m hurdles, running a personal-best 8.77 and was also strong in the long jump in leaping a season-best 19-6. Michigan's Bettie Wade won the pentathlon with a point total of 4,216.
In other events that were final on Saturday, sophomore Jessica Penney was eighth in the long jump with an indoor personal-best mark of 19-10 3/4. Beckford-Stewart just missed the scoring column in the event with a leap of 19-3 1/4 to take ninth. The Illini distance medley relay of Shannon Phelan, Paris Streeter, Ashley Thompson and Chantelle Groenewoud placed eighth in a time of 11:46.32, while senior Jackie Ziegler took 11th in the pole vault (12-4 1/2).
Illinois will have a number of chances to score big points in Sunday's finals, with eight representatives in five events. Three of the 10 competitors in the 400m final will wear the Orange and Blue, led by sophomore Melissa Bates who ran the top time in trials. Bates timed a career-best 54.53 as the fastest performer of the meet. Freshman Ryisha Boyd tied for third in trials with a time of 55.70, while senior Omoye Ugiagbe also advanced in finishing eighth (55.88). Junior Paris Streeter just missed making the cut, running a personal-best 56.48 to take 11th.
Sophomore Tamika Robinson qualified for finals in two events as well, advancing in the 60m and 60m hurdles. She ran a time of 7.53 in the 60m to finish third, good enough to tie her personal-best in the event. In the hurdles, Robinson had the sixth-fastest performance of the day with a time of 8.38.
Groenewoud will run in the one mile final, placing eighth in prelims with a personal-best time of 4:52.20. Senior Deserea Brown timed a personal-best 1:32.57 in the 600m, taking tenth in prelims to miss qualifying for the final by one placing. Sophomore Cheria Morgan also missed the 60m by one place, taking ninth in trials (7.69).
The Big Ten Indoor Championships concludes tomorrow beginning at 10 a.m. CT with the high jump. Running events begin at 12 p.m. The last event of the meet, the 4x400m relay, is scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m.
Illinois Saturday Results at Big Ten Indoor Championships
Q/q = qualified for Sunday event final
2. Angela Bizzarri 9:20.77; 8 team points
Distance Medley Relay (FINAL)
8. Illinois 11:46.32; 1 team point
(Phelan, Streeter, Thompson, Groenewoud)
4. Alecia Beckford-Stewart 3,840 points; 5 team points
Shot Put (FINAL)
2. Aja Evans 50-7 1/4 (15.42m); 8 team points
Pole Vault (FINAL)
11. Jackie Ziegler 12-4 1/2 (3.77m)
15. Shannon Phelan 2:14.19
One Mile (Preliminaries)
8. Chantelle Groenewoud 4:52.20 q
60m Hurdles (Preliminaries)
6. Tamika Robinson 8.38 q
10. Nikkita Holder 8.61
Big Ten Women's Indoor Championships Team Standings (Though six events)
1. Michigan 42
1. Minnesota 42
3. Penn State 32
4. Indiana 27.5
5. Illinois 23
5. Wisconsin 23
7. Michigan State 17.5
8. Purdue 16
9. Iowa 7
10. Ohio State 4