Feb. 12, 2009
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illini women's track and field team will look to keep things rolling in competing at the Iowa State Classic this weekend on Friday, Feb. 13 and Saturday, Feb. 14 in Ames, Iowa. The Orange and Blue are coming off their strongest showing of the indoor season, earning one automatic and two NCAA provisional qualifying times at Kentucky's Rod McCravy Memorial meet and Notre Dame's Meyo Invitational.
Illinois will face its toughest field yet, competing against over 80 teams from across the country at Iowa State's Lied Recreation Athletic Facility. The meet will also be solid preparation for the Big Ten Indoor Championships in two weeks, with conference foes Michigan State, Minnesota, Purdue and Wisconsin in attendance.
Following the multi-events in the morning, field events begin at 1:30 p.m. on Friday with the running starting at 3 p.m. Action starts early on Saturday, with the mile scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m.
"This is really our last competition before the Big Ten Championships and it's a very tough meet," head coach Tonja Buford-Bailey said. "We are at the point in the season where we know who we are as a team. Last week we had a number of breakout performances, but we definitely want to keep running faster and improving."
Junior All-American Angela Bizzarri will run the mile on Saturday, after an impressive season debut last weekend at the Meyo Invitational. Bizzarri ran a school-record time of 9:11.62 in the 3,000m, automatically qualifying for the NCAA Championships in the event.
The Illini are looking to lower their time in the 4x400m relay, with the foursome of freshman Ryisha Boyd, sophomore Melissa Bates and seniors Deserea Brown and Omoye Ugiagbe coming off of a breakthrough performance last week in Kentucky. The squad ran a NCAA provisional qualifying time of 3:39.90, where they are ranked No. 12 in the country. All four will also run the open 400m, where Boyd, Bates and Ugiagbe currently have the third through fifth fastest times in the Big Ten.
Sophomore Tamika Robinson has been one of the Illini's top performers all season, and will run her customary 60m, 200m and 60m hurdles this weekend. Robinson has been lowering her times nearly every week, provisionally qualifying for the NCAA Championships in the hurdles last weekend with a time of 8.37.
Junior Katie Engel will make her season debut on Saturday in the 3,000m, coming off of a cross country season where she earned All-America honors. Freshman Kristin Sutherland will also run the 3,000m after finishing runner-up in the 5,000m at the Meyo Invitational.