April 13, 2008
TEMPE, Ariz. - Illinois' women's track and field team hit NCAA regional qualifying marks for the first time this season in four events and set a number of personal bests at Arizona State's Sun Angel Track Classic on Saturday. Freshman Danelle Woods set a meet record in the 3,000m steeplechase, timing 10 minutes, 22.36 seconds to win the event and qualify for the NCAA regional championships.
Woods is now second on Illinois' all-time performance list in the event in just her first time running the steeplechase as an Illini. Cassie Hunt holds the school record at 9:55.75.
"It was a good meet for us," head coach Gary Winckler said. "It was a long day and the heat got to us a bit. But we hit 11 NCAA regional qualifying marks and nine personal-bests for some great performances. As a team we're exceeding expectations for this time of the season."
Sophomore Angela Bizzarri ran a personal-best time of 4:19.95 in the 1,500m, finishing sixth and hitting the NCAA regional standard. Her performance ranks second all-time in Illinois history in the event, behind Julie Lantis' school-record time of 4:17.50. Senior Rachel Hernandez also had a personal-best performance, taking fourth in the 800m and qualifying for regionals with a time of 2:08.62.
In the sprinting events, junior Omoye Ugiagbe posted her first NCAA regional qualifying mark of the season by running a personal-best 23.79 in the 200m and taking seventh. Senior Tiara Armstrong also ran a personal-best in the 200m, improving her NCAA regional time by finishing eighth in 23.82. Armstrong placed third in the 100m in 11.72, while Ugiagbe ran 54.62 in the 400m to take sixth, just missing the NCAA regional standard of 54.61.
Senior LaNeisha Waller ran her fastest 100m hurdles time of the year and lowered her NCAA regional mark by timing 13.27 and tying for fourth. Waller also took fourth as a member of the 4x100m relay, running the second leg and teaming with Armstrong, Analisa Austin and Ugiagbe to run a season-best 45.19 that ranks first in the Big Ten. Senior Briana Cunningham placed eighth in the 400m hurdles (59.72).
In the field events, sophomore Aja Evans led the way by taking fifth in the shot put with a distance of 49 feet, 11 1/4 inches. Freshman Jessica Penney was fifth in the long jump in 19-9 1/2, while freshman Melissa Bates was sixth in the triple jump (38-5).
Illinois is back in action next week at the Kansas Relays beginning on Wednesday, April 16 in Lawrence, Kan.