Fighting Illini Split Up For Important Meets at Mt. SAC & LSU
April 14, 2009
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Fighting Illini women's track and field team is geared up for an important week of competition, splitting up its roster four ways for three different meets. This is one of the final weeks the entire team will be in competition prior to the Big Ten Championships on May 15-17.
"This is another important weekend for us," head coach Tonja Buford-Bailey said. "We are hoping for better weather than we had last week at Arizona State. Hopefully we can get some more breakthrough performances and NCAA regional qualifiers at LSU, and we are looking for some big things from the distance girls at Mt. SAC."
Below is a preview of each of the meets the Illini will be competing in this week:
Mt. SAC Heptathlon // Azusa, Calif. // Wed. April 15 - Thurs. April 16
Mt. SAC Relays // Walnut, Calif. // Thurs., April 16 - Fri. April 17
Sophomore Chantelle Groenewoud will run the 3,000m steeplechase for the first time this season, competing in the Olympic Development section of the event on Thursday at 8 p.m. CT. Last season as a true freshman, Groenewoud competed in the steeplechase at the NCAA Outdoor Championships after finishing runner-up in the event at the NCAA Mideast Regional Championships. Other Illini competing at the Mt. SAC Relays are junior Elizabeth Boyle and freshman Kristin Sutherland in the open 5,000m and sophomore Shannon Phelan in the open 1,500m. Both races will take place on Friday.
LSU Alumni Gold // Baton Rouge, La. // Saturday, April 18
The Illini will look for some top performances in the hurdling events, with sophomore Tamika Robinson qualifying for the regional championships in the 100m hurdles last weekend at the Sun Angel Track Classic. Senior Deserea Brown is not far off the regional standard in the 100m hurdles, but her focus is on the 400m hurdles where she is ranked eighth in the NCAA and first in the Big Ten with a season-best time of 58.58. Aja Evans is also one of the best in the country in her respective event, as the junior will get a chance to improve in the shot put on Saturday. Evans currently has a season-best throw of 52-9 ½ that ranks 10th in the country.
A pair of 400m runners highlight the list of Illini athletes looking for breakthrough performances. Sophomore Melissa Bates ranks first in the Big Ten with a time of 54.69, just 0.08 seconds off of the regional championships qualifying standard in the event. Senior Omoye Ugiagbe will also attempt to qualify for regionals, owning a season-best time of 55.37.
Dave Rankin Invitational // West Lafayette, Ind. // Saturday, April 18
Up next, Illinois heads to the prestigious Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa from April 22-25.