Jan. 22, 2009
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois' women's track and field team hopes for a number of breakthrough performances early in the 2009 season, hosting its only indoor home meet with the annual Carle/Health Alliance Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 24 at the UI Armory. Field events begin at 9 a.m., with track events scheduled to start at 11 a.m. Admission to the meet is free to Illinois students and youth, while adult tickets are $5.
The Illini are one of seven teams competing Saturday, along with Georgia, Lincoln (Mo.), Loyola, Northern Illinois, Southern Illinois and Western Kentucky.
"We know more of where we are as compared to last week with having one meet under our belt," head coach Tonja Buford-Bailey said. "We're looking to have a number of solid performances Saturday and really improve our times in front of our home crowd."
Two returning All-Americans will be competing for the Orange and Blue, with junior Aja Evans in the shot put and senior Omoye Ugiagbe in the 400m. Evans, the Illini school record-holder in the shot put, will look for her first big performance of the season in the event while Ugiagbe will run the 400m for the first time this year as well as the 200m.
Sophomore Tamika Robinson was the Illini's top performer last weekend at the Indiana Open, running personal-bests in the 60m, 200m and 60m hurdles. Robinson will be busy again on Saturday as she is scheduled to compete all three events. Sophomore Cheria Morgan will run the 60m and freshman Ryisha Boyd the 600m, with both also coming off of strong races last weekend. Other Illini to watch on the track include Deserea Brown and Melissa Bates in the 400m, Elizabeth Boyle in the 3,000m and Theresa Brokaw in the mile. The Orange and Blue will also run two 4x400m relays.
In the field, sophomore Jessica Penney will aim for another personal-best in the long jump, after leaping an indoor career-best last weekend (19-7).
Illinois is off from competition next weekend and will compete as a split squad on Feb 6-7. Some athletes will compete at Notre Dame's Meyo Invitational in South Bend, Ind., with others traveling to Lexington, Ky. for the Rod McCravy Memorial Meet.