April 3, 2009
AUSTIN, Texas - The Illinois women's track and field team opened up competition at the Texas Relays on Friday, with the 4x400m relay turning in the top performance of the day in advancing to finals and qualifying for the NCAA Regional Championships.
The Texas Relays is one of the largest track and field meets in the country, with thousands of collegiate, high school and professional athletes in attendance.
The Orange and Blue ran their top 4x400m relay of senior Omoye Ugiagbe, senior Deserea Brown, freshman Ryisha Boyd and sophomore Melissa Bates for the first time this outdoor season, with the foursome finishing ninth of 39 teams in event prelims to grab the final spot in tomorrow's final. The Illini timed 3:38.76 to also qualify for the NCAA Regional Championships, easily hitting the standard of 3:42.00. Texas A&M ran the fastest 4x400m relay of trials with a performance of 3:34.48.
Illinois had three athletes competing in the 100m hurdles trials, with all three finishing in the top 25 in a field of 64 athletes. Sophomore Tamika Robinson led the way with a career-best time of 14.04 to finish 19th in prelims. Senior Deserea Brown timed 14.09 to take 23rd, while Nikkita Holder was 25th (14.29). Michigan senior Tiffany Ofili, a two-time national champion in the 100m hurdles, handily ran the fastest prelim time with a performance of 13.19.
The 4x100m relay of junior Aja Evans, Robinson, sophomore Cheria Morgan and Ugiagbe took 17th out of 40 relays in event prelims with a time of 46.39, setting a new season-best and finishing runner-up in their heat. The top eight relays advanced to tomorrow's finals, with LSU leading the way in a time of 44.35. Robinson was also Illinois' top performer in the 100m trials, timing 12.16 to finish 51st.
Illinois action at the Texas Relays will continue tomorrow afternoon, with Evans competing in the shot put, Brown and Latoya Griffith in the 400m hurdles and finals of the 4x200m and 4x400m relays. The Illini will also send a separate group of athletes to compete in West Lafayette, Ind. at the Mike Poehlein Invitational hosted by Purdue.