April 9, 2009
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Fighting Illini women's track and field team will compete a full squad for the first time this outdoor season, in action on Saturday at the 30th Sun Angel Track Classic hosted by Arizona State. Illinois' distance athletes will run for the first time since the indoor season, joining the sprinters, hurdlers and field event athletes in Tempe, Ariz.
"This is a meet we have been targeting all season to get some of our top performances," head coach Tonja Buford-Bailey said. "Arizona State has a fast track and we will face a lot of top-level competition. It will be great to compete our entire team, and we hope to have a handful of regional qualifying performances."
Some of the top teams in the country will join Illinois at the Sun Angel Track Classic, as a total of 37 squads will be in attendance. Six of the women's teams are ranked in the nation's top-25, including No. 3 LSU, No. 6 Arizona State, No. 9 USC and No. 15 Minnesota. A large number of professional athletes will compete alongside the collegiate competitors, including 19 Olympians.
The meet is scheduled to begin at 12 p.m. CT on Saturday and run throughout the day. The last event, the men's premiere 1,500m, is not slotted to begin until 12:15 a.m. on Sunday.
Junior Angela Bizzarri will run for the first time since placing fourth in the 3,000m at the NCAA Indoor Championships in March. Bizzarri will open the outdoor season running the 1,500m, waiting to debut in her signature outdoor event - the 5,000m - until later in the year. The six-time All-American is set to run in the meet's premier heat, with a handful of professional athletes and the meet's top collegiate entrants.
Five other Illini will join Bizzarri in competing in premier heats at the Sun Angel Classic. Senior Deserea Brown will run the top section of the 400m hurdles, fresh off of running 58.58 in the event at the Texas Relays to rank seventh in the country. Junior Aja Evans will compete in the premiere section of the shot put, as one of four entrants in the field who finished in the top-10 at this year's NCAA Indoor Championships.
Senior Omoye Ugiagbe will run the premiere heats in the 200m and 400m, and will be joined in the 400m by teammates Melissa Bates and Ryisha Boyd. The Illini 4x100m and 4x400m relays will also run in the meet's top sections.
The Illini have a pair of highly competitive meets next weekend, with some athletes heading to the Mt. SAC Relays in Walnut, Calif. from April 16-18 and others competing at the LSU Alumni Gold meet on April 18.