June 9, 2007
Sacramento, Calif. - The collegiate track & field season came to a close today with the fourth and final day of the 2007 NCAA Outdoor Championships, hosted by Sacramento State at the Alex G. Spanos Sports Complex. The Illini women's team had two athletes compete during today's event finals, seniors Carlene Robinson in the 400-meter hurdles and Yvonne Mensah in the triple jump.
Robinson earned All-America honors by finishing seventh in today's final with a time of 57.11 seconds. This marks her first career All-America award in the 400m hurdles and her second overall, as she was also an All-American at the 2004 NCAA Outdoor meet, finishing seventh in the 800-meter run. Robinson had a great senior season, scoring in four events at the Big Ten Outdoor meet, including running the third leg of Illinois' conference champion 4x100-meter relay. She set a personal best of 56.73 in the 400m hurdles during yesterday's semifinal heat at nationals. Robinson closes her career as a two-time All-American and five-time Big Ten champion.
"Carlene came to us as an 800-meter runner. She has really only been hurdling seriously since last year, so she's come a long way in a relatively short amount of time," head coach Gary Winckler said. "She ran great yesterday, setting a PR, and looked to be on her way again today until she clipped the seventh hurdle with her trail leg, which threw off her rhythm. She would have finished better if she hadn't hit that hurdle, but making it to the final and becoming an All-American is still a great achievement."
Mensah, meanwhile, finished 12th in the triple jump with a mark of 41 feet, 1 ½ inches during today's final. This concludes a sensational Illinois career for Mensah, who leaves the program as a three-time All-American and 15-time Big Ten champion. Just looking at her senior season, she was named Big Ten Field Athlete of the Indoor Championships after scoring 38 points and winning conference titles in both the long jump and triple jump, and finishing sixth in the long jump at the NCAA Indoor Championships to earn her third career All-America accolade. Mensah then won six medals at the Big Ten outdoor meet, scoring 40.5 points and winning four conference titles in the 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash, triple jump and as anchor of the 4x100m relay. Mensah is this year's recipient of the Big Ten Medal of Honor and is a finalist for the University of Illinois Dike Eddleman Athlete of the Year award.
"Yvonne had a really big jump during yesterday's prelims that she fouled on which would have been a school record. She then fouled on her first two jumps today which put her back against the wall on her third attempt," Winckler said. "I've never seen her have the difficulty with fouls as she did at this meet. She has been very consistent throughout her career.
"We hoped that they could have finished their careers on a little higher note this week, but I can't say enough about the impact that Yvonne and Carlene and Camile, those three seniors, have had on our program," Winckler added. "They have produced since the day they set foot on campus and have carried a heavy workload, always competing in multiple events. There is no better example of the sacrifices they've made than this year's conference meet, where they led us to the Big Ten Championship. They will certainly be missed."
Illinois finished tied for 67th in the team standings at the NCAA Championships with two points, scored by Robinson with her seventh-place finish in the 400m hurdles.
Complete results from the 2007 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships are available at flashresults.com.
Illinois Women's Track Results-Final Day, NCAA Championships
400m Hurdles Final
7. Carlene Robinson 57.11 (2 points)
Triple Jump Final
12. Yvonne Mensah 41-1 ½ (12.53 m)