May 13, 2009
2009 Big Ten Outdoor Track & Field Championships
Friday, May 15 - Sunday, May 17
Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium // Columbus, Ohio
The Illinois women's track and field team will look to remain among the upper echelon of the conference this weekend, traveling to Columbus, Ohio for the Big Ten Outdoor Championships from Friday, May 15 through Sunday, May 17 at Ohio State's Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. Junior Alecia Beckford-Stewart will get things started for the Orange and Blue on Friday, competing in the heptathlon beginning at 11:15 a.m. CT. Illinois will also have entries in the pole vault and 10,000m on the first day of the championships. The heptathlon resumes on Saturday at 9:15 a.m. CT, leading into women's finals in the shot put, long jump and 3,000m steeplechase and trials of the running events. Sunday finals will begin at 10 a.m. CT with the women's triple jump, with the running finals scheduled to begin at 11:45 a.m. with the 4x4100m relay and end at 2:45 p.m. with the 4x400m relay.
The Big Ten Outdoor Championships features a loaded field on the women's side, with four teams ranked in the nation's top-25 by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. No. 11 Michigan leads the way, followed by No. 20 Penn State, No. 21 Minnesota and No. 25 Indiana. The Illini stand just outside of the top-25, coming in at No. 30 in the latest USTFCCCA standings. Penn State took the 2008 outdoor crown, its first in program history.
Heading into the championships, Illinois is ranked first in the Big Ten in four events. Junior Angela Bizzarri tops the conference in both the 1,500m and 5,000m, while junior Aja Evans is the top seed in the shot put and the 4x100m relay of Evans, Ashley Kelly, Omoye Ugiagbe and Tamika Robinson is also ranked first.
Live results will be available throughout the meet at www.deltatiming.com and also linked on www.fightingillini.com.
The 2009 Big Ten Outdoor Track and Field Championships will also be televised tape-delayed by the Big Ten Network on Sunday, May 24 at 3 p.m. CT. Brent Stover will call the action, with analysis from Butler By'not'e and Suzy Favor Hamilton.
Illinois History at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships
The Orange and Blue have won the most event titles of any team in the Big Ten, with a total of 101 first-place finishes since the women's championships started in 1982. Wisconsin ranks second with 88 titles. Illinois has also won a total of six outdoor team titles, with the most recent coming in 2007. The Illini finished fourth at the 2008 outdoor championships.
Illinois won two titles at the 2008 Big Ten Outdoor Championships held at the UI Track Stadium in Champaign, with Aja Evans winning the shot put and Briana Cunningham taking the 400m hurdles. Angela Bizzarri was also a force for the Illini, finishing runner-up in the 5,000m and taking fifth in the 1,500m.
Illini Athletes to Watch:
Melissa Bates, Sprints (Sophomore // Grand Prairie, Texas)
Ranks second in the Big Ten in two events, in the 400m and as the anchor of the 4x400m relay ... Is also Illinois' top performer in the 200m ... Regional qualifier in the 400m with a personal-best time of 54.34 ran at the LSU Alumni Gold ... Also led the 4x400m relay to a regional qualifying time of 3:36.78 at LSU ... Was one of Illinois' top performers at the 2009 Big Ten Indoor Championships, leading the 4x400m relay to a runner-up finish, taking third in the 400m and seventh in the 200m ... Anchored the 4x400m relay that set an indoor school record of 3:35.13 and went on to compete at the NCAA Indoor Championships ... Scored in the 200m at the 2008 Big Ten Outdoor Championships.
200m - Personal-Best: 24.10 (4/12/08) // Season-Best: 24.35 (5/2/09)
400m - Personal-Best: 54.34 (4/18/09)
Angela Bizzarri, Distance (Junior // Mason, Ohio)
Ranks first in the Big Ten in both the 1,500m and 5,000m heading into the championships ... Owns the second-best 5,000m time in the nation, timing 15:37.39 and resetting her own school record at the Mt. SAC Relays ... Was named Big Ten Track Athlete of the Week after her performance at Mt. SAC ... Ran a personal-best time of 4:17.65 in the 1,500m at the Sun Angel Track Classic ... A six-time All-American between track and field and cross country ... Also owns five Illinois school records ... Most recently finished fourth in the 3,000m at the 2009 NCAA Indoor Championships ... Took sixth at the 2008 NCAA Cross Country Championships, tying the best-ever finish for an Illini at the national meet and earning her third consecutive All-America accolade in cross country ... 2008 NCAA Outdoor Championships runner-up in the 5,000m ... Went on to compete in the 5,000m at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials and make the event finals ... Has consistently been Illinois' top scorer at the Big Ten Track and Field Championships, taking second in the 3,000m and fourth in the 5,000m at the 2009 indoor championships and placing second in the 5,000m and fifth in the 1,500m at the 2008 outdoor championships ... Has earned All-Big Ten honors five times between cross country and track and field.
1,500m - Personal-Best: 4:17.65 (4/11/09)
5,000m - Personal-Best: 15:37.39 (4/17/09)
Deserea Brown, Hurdles / Sprints (Senior // Flossmoor, Ill.)
Ranks second in the Big Ten and 16th in the nation in the 400m hurdles with a season-best time of 58.39 ran at the LSU Alumni Gold ... Also will run the 100m hurdles this weekend and lead off the 4x400m relay that is seeded second ... Has qualified for the NCAA Regional Championships in all three events ... Has hit the regional standard in the 400m hurdles six times this season, winning the event title at the prestigious Drake Relays ... Also ran a personal-best 100m hurdles time of 13.84 at Drake ... Member of the 4x400m relay that set an indoor school record of 3:35.13 and went on to compete at the NCAA Indoor Championships ... 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials participant in the 400m hurdles ... Transferred to Illinois this season from SIU-Edwardsville, where she was a two-time Division II national champion and 16-time All-American.
100m Hurdles - Personal-Best: 13.84 (4/25/09)
400m Hurdles - Personal-Best: 56.82 (6/15/08) // Season-Best: 58.39 (4/18/09)
Aja Evans, Throws / Sprints (Junior // Chicago, Ill.)
The Big Ten leader in two events heading into the championships, owning the conference's best throw in the shot put and as a member of the 4x100m relay that is also seeded first ... 2008 Big Ten Outdoor Champion in the shot put, with a throw of 55-10 1/2 that set the Big Ten Championships meet record, the Illinois school record and the UI Track Stadium facility record ...Currently ranked sixth in the nation in the shot put with a season-best mark of 54-9 1/4 from the Illinois Invitational ... Won four shot put event titles this season and hit the regional qualifying standard six times ... Also earned Big Ten Field Athlete of the Week honors twice ... Two-time NCAA indoor All-American in the shot put, placing fifth at the 2009 championships and ninth in 2008 ... Finished runner-up in the shot put at the 2009 Big Ten Indoor Championships ... 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials participant.
Shot Put - Personal-Best: 55-10 1/2; 17.03m (5/17/08) // Season-Best: 54-9 1/4; 16.69m (5/2/09)
Tamika Robinson, Hurdles/Sprints (Sophomore // Chicago, Ill.)
Will be one of Illinois' busiest athletes this weekend, competing in the 100m, 100m hurdles and 4x100m relay ... Owns a personal-best 100m hurdles time of 13.77 from the LSU Alumni Gold to regionally qualify ... Anchored the 4x100m relay to a regional-qualifying performance of 45.68 at the Illinois Invitational ... Placed fourth in the 60m and seventh in the 60m hurdles at the 2009 Big Ten Indoor Championships ... Anchored the 4x100m relay to a third place finish at the 2008 Big Ten Outdoor Championships and a NCAA Regional Championships appearance.
100m - Personal-Best: 11.82 (3/28/09)
100m Hurdles - Personal-Best: 13.77 (4/18/09)
4x100m Relay (Aja Evans, Ashley Kelly, Omoye Ugiagbe, Tamika Robinson)
Seeded first heading into the championships ... The Illini are coming off their season-best performance, timing 45.68 to qualify for the NCAA Regional Championships ... Illinois took third in the 4x100m relay at last year's outdoor championships with Robinson as the anchor and won the title in 2007.
4x100m Relay Season-Best: 45.68 (5/2/09)
4x400m Relay (Deserea Brown, Omoye Ugiagbe, Ryisha Boyd, Melissa Bates)
Seeded second heading into the championships ... Season-best time of 3:36.78 came at the LSU Alumni Gold meet ... Same foursome set the Illinois indoor 4x400m record of 3:35.13 this winter that ranked third in the nation ... 4x400m relay finished runner-up at the 2009 Big Ten Indoor Championships and competed at the NCAA Indoor Championships ... Ugiagbe has been a staple on the 4x400m relay in her four years at Illinois ... The Illini last won the 4x400m relay at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships in 2005.
4x400m Relay Season-Best: 3:36.78 (4/18/09)
2009 Illinois Highlights:
Bizzarri & Evans Rank Among Nation's Best- Illinois has two athletes ranked among the nation's top-10 in their respective events, as junior Angela Bizzarri has the second-best 5,000m time in the NCAA and junior Aja Evans is ranked sixth in the shot put. Bizzarri's performance of 15:37.39 came from the Mt. SAC Relays on April 17 where she ran in the invitational heat among a field of mainly professional athletes. The Mason, Ohio native shattered her previous school record and ranked first in the country until Colorado's Jennifer Barringer timed 15:07.64 on May 2. Evans' shot put performance of 54-9 1/2 came at her most recent competition, the Illinois Invitational on May 2. Both Bizzarri and Evans will likely be aiming to add to their collection of All-America accolades at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, as Bizzarri is a six-time All-American and Evans has earned the honor twice.
Orange and Blue Break Out at LSU & Mt. SAC- Illinois' best weekend of competition came from April 16-18 competing as a split squad at the Mt. SAC Relays and LSU Alumni Gold meet. Over the weekend, the Illini posted a combined total of 13 marks that qualified for the NCAA Regional Championships, with eight coming at LSU and five at Mt. SAC. Angela Bizzarri drew the highlights at Mt. SAC, timing 15:37.39 in the 5,000m for the best performance in the country at that point. Senior Deserea Brown also had an impressive weekend at LSU, qualifying for regionals in the 100m hurdles, 400m hurdles and in leading off the 4x400m relay.