March 1, 2009
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - The 4x400m relay placed second, Angela Bizzarri set another school record and the Illini had standout performances from a core of underclassmen, leading the way for the women's track and field team on the final day of the Big Ten Indoor Championships at Indiana's Harry Gladstein Fieldhouse.
Illinois ended up fifth in the team standings with a total of 60 team points. Minnesota won its third consecutive indoor team title with 129 points in a meet that was close through the final events. The Gophers were able to edge out Penn State (125 points) and Michigan (121.5) for the title, while host Indiana was fourth (69.5).
"We're a little disappointed because we really thought we could finish fourth," Illini head coach Tonja Buford-Bailey said. "If we put everything together and some of our upperclassmen would have stepped up more I think we could have scored another 10 points or so to take fourth. Our freshmen and sophomores did a great job and carried us throughout the meet."
The 4x400m relay were the highest Illini finishers of the day in taking runner-up in the meet's final event. The foursome of senior Omoye Ugiagbe, senior Deserea Brown, freshman Ryisha Boyd and sophomore Melissa Bates timed 3:41.29. Penn State easily won the 4x4 title in a time of 3:39.43.
Junior All-American Angela Bizzarri capped off a strong Big Ten Championships by placing fourth in the 5,000m and setting the indoor school record in the event. Bizzarri had never ran the indoor 5,000m before Sunday, timing 16:07.50 in the final to crush Jaime Turilli's previous school record of 16:32.57 set in 2005. Between track and field and cross country, Bizzarri now owns Illinois records in five events. The Mason, Ohio native led the Illini with 13 points scored at the Big Ten Championships after placing second in the 3,000m on Saturday. Wisconsin's Gwen Jorgensen won the 5,000m in a time of 15:55.63, also taking the 3,000m crown.
Bates had a strong all-around meet for the Illini, getting to the podium in the 400m in placing third with a time of 54.73. The sophomore also was seventh in the 200m (24.99) and closed out the championships by anchoring the runner-up 4x400m relay.
Another sophomore, this time Tamika Robinson, also scored in two individual events for the Orange and Blue. Robinson was fourth in the 60m with a time of 7.57 and seventh in the 60m hurdles with a time of 8.59 to continue her breakthrough season.
Boyd had a career-best performance in the 400m, placing fifth and scoring four team points in a time of 55.01. Ugiagbe competed the 200m and 400m finals, taking eighth in both.
Sophomore Chantelle Groenewoud took seventh in the finals of the mile, running a personal-best time of 4:50.70. Freshman Kristin Sutherland was eighth in the 5,000m competing in her first career Big Ten Indoor Championships, timing a personal-best 16:42.00 to rank fifth all-time at Illinois in the event.
Next up, Illini athletes trying to qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championships will compete at Notre Dame's Alex Wilson Invitational from March 6-7.
Illinois Sunday Results at Big Ten Indoor Championships
4. Tamika Robinson 7.57; 5 team points
One Mile (FINAL)
7. Chantelle Groenewoud 4:50.70; 2 team points
60m Hurdles (FINAL)
7. Tamika Robinson 8.59; 2 team points
High Jump (FINAL)
-- Alecia Beckford-Stewart NH
Big Ten Women's Indoor Championships Final Team Standings
1. Minnesota 129
2. Penn State 125
3. Michigan 121.5
4. Indiana 69.5
5. ILLINOIS 60
6. Michigan State 53.5
7. Wisconsin 46
8. Purdue 38.5
9. Ohio State 33
10. Iowa 25