Jan. 17, 2008
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois women's track and field team will face off against some of the country's elite in hosting the Illinois Women's Invitational at the UI Armory on Saturday, Jan. 19. The meet will start at 10 a.m. with the weight throw, while the running events are set to kick off at 1 p.m. with the distance medley relay.
Competing in the quadrangular with the No. 25 Illini is No. 11 Texas, No. 14 UCLA and Miami. The Bruins will travel four All-Americans to Champaign, including junior Nicole Leach, who was the 2007 NCAA champion in the 400m hurdles. Texas features one of the best 4x400m relays in the country, led by Illinois native Alexandria Anderson, who took fifth in the 60m at the 2007 NCAA Championships.
"The idea of this meet was to get a top team from the Big Ten, ACC, Big 12 and Pac-10 and give those schools a chance to compete against each other," Illinois head coach Gary Winckler said. "It really is an ideal meet that should be very fan friendly and fun to watch. It probably is the highest quality track and field meet we've had at Illinois in 15 years."
For Illinois, senior Tiara Armstong and junior Omoye Ugiagbe are coming off of a strong showing at the Indiana Open last weekend, with Armstrong winning the 60m and taking third in the 200m and Ugiagbe placing second in both events. On Saturday, Ugiagbe will return to competing in her signature event, the 400 meters, along with the 200m. Armstrong will run both the 60 and 200 meters.
Senior NCAA Championships qualifier LaNeisha Waller is also expected to compete for the first time in 2008, running the 60m hurdles and competing in the long jump. Also highlighting the 60m hurdles race for Illinois is junior Nikkita Holder, who won the event at the Indiana Open.
Highly-touted freshman Jessica Penney will make her Illinois debut, running in the 60m hurdles and competing in the long jump, which she took fifth in at the 2007 New Zealand Track & Field Championships. After faring well in the shot put at the Indiana Open, Illini sophomore Aja Evans will have her work cut out for her against Miami's Khadija Talley, who boasts a seed mark of 54 feet in the event.
Next up for Illinois is hosting the annual Carle/Health Alliance Invitational with the Illini men's track and field team at the UI Armory next Saturday, Jan. 26, beginning at 9 a.m.