Jan. 19, 2008
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illini women's track and field team came ready to compete against some of the toughest competition it will see all season, winning the Illinois Women's Invitational on Saturday at the UI Armory and defeating two top-15 opponents. The No. 25 Illini won three events to take first with 122 points, and were followed by Miami (120.5), No. 11 Texas (119) and No. 14 UCLA (110.5).
"I have to be pleased with the final result," head coach Gary Winckler said. "This was a very tough meet. We didn't have things go our way in the beginning, but everybody competed well and I thought the meet was a lot of fun. These are the kind of meets I wish we would have more of throughout the country, in getting a chance to compete against top teams you don't get to see regularly. It was a lot of fun for everyone."
Senior Mandy Pintaro started Illinois off by winning the pole vault with an indoor personal-best mark of 12 feet, 7 ½ inches. Pintaro, who shares the school outdoor pole vault record with teammate Jackie Ziegler, attempted to break Ashley Whittaker's height of 12-10 but fell short.
Junior Omoye Ugiagbe won the 400m in a time of 56.66 seconds in her first time running the event this season, while the Illini distance medley relay of Danelle Woods, Paris Streeter, Shannon Phelan and Kate Tysse also were victorious with a first-place time of 12:19.74.
Other Illini highlights include junior Nikkita Holder taking second in the 60m hurdles (8.61), senior Tiara Armstrong placing third in the 200m (24.72) and fourth in the 60m (7.63) and Liz Mengyan taking third in the mile (5:10.41).
A number of newcomers also stepped up for the Illini, most notably freshman Melissa Bates, who took third in the triple jump (38-4 ¼) and placed fifth in the 200m (25.37). Sophomore transfer Aja Evans took third in the shot put with a distance of 48-6 ¼.
"It's encouraging that our young athletes are coming in and really competing," Winckler said. "If they can run against these kinds of teams, they know they can run against everybody. It's a good thing for the whole program."
Texas standout Alexandria Anderson tied the UI Armory record in the 60m with a time of 7.31 in prelims, winning the finals in 7.38. Anderson also took first in the 200m (23.85) and long jump (19-10 ¾).
Illinois will compete at the UI Armory again next weekend, hosting the annual Carle/Health Alliance Invitational with the Illini men's track and field team on Saturday, Jan. 26 beginning at 9 a.m.