April 30, 2008
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois men's and women's track and field teams appeared ready for championship season at the Illinois Twilight meet, recording a number of season-bests on Wednesday at the Illinois Track and Field Stadium. The meet served as both teams' final tune-up before the Big Ten Outdoor Championships. The Illinois Twilight was broadcast tape-delayed by the Big Ten Network, and is scheduled to air on Thursday, May 8 at 8 p.m.
Sophomore Aja Evans had the day's top performance, setting a new outdoor school record in the shot put. Her distance of 55 feet, 8 ¼ inches broke the previous record of 53'1" set by Collinus Newsome in 1996. Evans now has the Illinois all-time bests in the shot put in both the indoor and outdoor season. The Chicago native already owned the top shot put in the Big Ten, and now ranks third in the NCAA Mideast region.
On the men's side, All-American Gakologelwang Masheto ran his first 400m race of the outdoor season, cruising to the title and a NCAA regional qualifying time of 46.61 seconds. Sophomore Brandon Gray finished runner-up and also hit the regional mark, timing a personal-best 46.93. The Illini now have three regional qualifiers in the 400m, as Masheto and Gray join junior Yawusa Kinda.
Sophomore Greg Shroka had the best performance of his career in the high jump, leaping 7' ¼" and qualifying for the NCAA regional meet. Shroka now ranks second all-time on the school performance list in the event, and is just the fourth person in Illinois history to high jump over seven feet. His new mark also ranks him tied for first in the Big Ten.
Sprinter Dominique Worsley was dominant in the men's sprinting events, running a personal-best 10.34 in the 100m and a season-best 21.29 in the 200m. Senior Pierre Bush finished behind Worsley in the 100m with a season-best 10.91, while Masheto took second in the 200m (21.78).
Senior Tiara Armstrong won two sprinting titles as well, running a wind-aided 11.60 in the 100m and timing 24.01 in the 200m. Freshman Tamika Robinson was second in the women's 100m (11.86 w), while Melissa Bates was runner-up in the 200m (24.54).
In the women's long jump, senior LaNeisha Waller recorded the best Illinois performance of the season with a mark of 20' 3 ½". Waller did not compete in her signature event, the 100m hurdles, but teammate Nikkita Holder had her best race of the season in the event, timing 13.66.
Sophomore Rob Pykosz was just off the regional mark in the 3,000m steeplechase, running a personal-best 9:09.53 to fall short of the 9:07.00 standard. Junior Gary Miller ran the Illini's top 800m race of the season (1:51.94), finishing ahead of sophomore Brian Beaird (1:52.60). Freshman Cody Wisslead also ran a personal-best in winning the 110m hurdles with a time of 14.66.
Both Illinois teams will have plenty of time to recuperate before hosting the Big Ten Outdoor Track & Field Championships from Friday, May 16 to Sunday, May 18.