March 11, 2005
Four Illini women's track and field athletes have traveled south to compete against the top competitors in the nation at the NCAA Indoor Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. Illini participants include freshman Carlene Robinson, sophomores Cassie Hunt, and Yvonne Mensah and junior Nina Henson.
Robinson qualified in the 800m with a time of 2:06.69 which she set at the Meyo Invitational. This performance marked a season best for Robinson and set a new Illinois school record. Two weeks ago she earned Big Ten Championships in the 800m and as a participant in the 4x400m relay. Robinson was named to the first- and second-team Big Ten squads in the 2004 outdoors. A 2004 All-American in the 800m, Robinson is ranked 11th upon entry into the NCAA's. Tara Mendozza was the last Illini to appear in the 800m at the NCAA's in 1999.
Hunt will run the 3,000m after qualifying with a time of 9:20.90, which she achieved on this track last month at the Tyson Invitational. This run set Hunt's season best and broke an Illinois school record. Hunt's trip to the NCAA's marks the first for an Illini in this event since 1982. An NCAA All-American in the 2004 outdoor steeplechase, Hunt ranks 16th upon entry into the Championship meet.
Mensah completed a personal best 8.23 60m hurdles run to qualify for the NCAA's. She was the Big Ten Champion in the 60m hurdles in 2003 and 2004 and earned another title as a participant in the 4x400m relay in the 2004 Outdoors where she earned first- and second-team All-Big Ten honors. She will enter the championships ranked 12th. The last Illini to compete in the 60m hurdles at the NCAA's was Perdita Felicien, who placed 3rd in 2003. Felicien also won the event at the 2002 meet in a collegiate record time of 7.90.
Henson will compete in the triple jump at the NCAA Championships with a qualifying jump of 42'11.00", which she achieved at the Tyson Invitational. This jump sets a new personal record for Henson and helps her break into the top-five Illini performers list at No. 5. She will enter the NCAA Championships ranked 16th. Her presence will mark the first Illini appearance in the triple jump since Nicole Whitman in 2003.
In order to earn All-America honors an athlete has to either finish in the top-eight in his event or be one of the top eight American finishers.
The 800m prelims will be run Friday with finals being run Saturday while the 60m hurdles will run its prelims and finals Friday. The triple jump and the 3,000m will be contested Saturday.
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