Jan. 10, 2008
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois women's track and field team opens its 2008 indoor season on Saturday, Jan. 12, competing at the Indiana Open in Bloomington, Ind. The meet starts with prelims of the running events beginning at 10:30 a.m. CT, followed by the start of the field events beginning at 11 a.m. Teams competing along with the Illini include Indiana, South Florida, Northern Kentucky, Louisville, Indiana Wesleyan and Dayton.
"We're going to take one of our largest squads of the season to this meet," head coach Gary Winckler said. "Being a young team, we're going to put lots of people in different events to get an idea as to where we need to fill the gaps as we approach the Big Ten season."
Seniors Tiara Armstrong and LaNeisha Waller will be looking for a strong start to their seasons. Armstrong took third in the 60m at the 2007 Big Ten Indoor Championships, while Waller was runner-up in the 60m hurdles at the conference championships. Both will compete in their signature event on Saturday, while Waller will also compete in the long jump for the first time since 2005.
Other Illini returners competing on Saturday include junior Omoye Ugiagbe, who has scored in four consecutive Big Ten meets in the 400 meters, junior Nikkita Holder in the 60m hurdles and sophomore Alecia Beckford-Stewart in the 60m hurdles and long jump. Jackie Ziegler and Mandy Pintaro will compete in the pole vault, where they share the school record in the outdoor season.
Highly touted freshmen sprinters Analisa Austin, Melissa Bates, Cheria Morgan and Tamika Robinson will all make their Illinois debuts, competing in both the 60 and 200 meters. Sophomore Aja Evans, a transfer from UNLV, will also see her first Illini action as she competes in the 60 and 200 meters along with the shot put.
Next up for the Illini is two consecutive home meets at the UI Armory. The Illinois Women's Invitational, featuring squads from Miami, Texas and UCLA, will take place on Saturday, Jan. 19 beginning at 10 a.m. The annual Illinois Carle/Health Alliance Invitational is the following Saturday, Jan. 26.