July 1, 2008
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois track and field programs will be represented by five athletes at the 2008 Canadian Track and Field Olympic Trials, held from July 3-6 in Windsor, Ontario at University of Windsor Stadium. Former Illinois greats Yvonne Mensah and Nathan Vadeboncoeur along with current Illini athletes Alecia Beckford-Stewart, Katie Engel and Cheria Morgan will compete.
Mensah won 15 Big Ten titles from 2004 to 2007 competing in the sprints and jumps, but is now focusing on the 400m hurdles in an attempt to make the Canadian Olympic Team. The Surrey, British Columbia native easily owns the top 400m hurdles time in Canada at 56.12 seconds, with the next-fastest performer clocking in at 1:00.44. Mensah's personal-best makes the Olympic `B' standard, but is off the Olympic `A' standard of 55.60. The 400m hurdles semifinal is scheduled for Saturday evening, with the final Sunday afternoon.
Vadeboncoeur posts the country's second-fastest 400m time (46.82), but will need to at least hit the Olympic `B' standard of 45.95 at Trials. The men's 400m semifinal is on Friday night, with the event final on Saturday. Vadeboncoeur lettered for the Illini from 2004-06 and was a member of three Big Ten champion 4x400m relays as well as the 2006 squad that finished runner-up at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
Beckford-Stewart, who just completed her sophomore season at Illinois, is entered in the heptathlon beginning on Thursday. She ranks fifth in Canada in the event, with a personal-best of 5,180 points achieved in finishing fifth at this year's Big Ten Outdoor Championships.
Engel will run the 1,500m on Friday evening. She is seeded 14th in the event with a season-best time of 4:26.54, but posts a personal-best of 4:22.89 from 2007 after an injury-plagued sophomore year.
Morgan is coming off a solid freshman campaign for the Orange and Blue, where she competed at the NCAA Mideast Regional Championships as a member of the 4x100m relay and was a Big Ten scorer by placing seventh in the 60m at the Big Ten Indoor Championships. The Pickering, Ontario native will run both the 100m and 200m at the Canadian Trials, where she is seeded ninth (11.91) and 14th (24.79), respectively.
Live results and more information on the Canadian Track and Field Olympic Trials can be found on the host web site, www.canadiantrials.ca.
Illinois Schedule at Canadian Olympic Trials (All Times Central)
Thursday, July 3
4 p.m. Heptathlon 100m hurdles (Alecia Beckford-Stewart)
4:40 p.m. Heptathlon High Jump (Alecia Beckford-Stewart)
6:45 p.m. Heptathlon Shot Put (Alecia Beckford-Stewart)
8:45 p.m. Heptathlon 200m (Alecia Beckford-Stewart)
Friday, July 4
4:30 p.m. Heptathlon Long Jump (Alecia Beckford-Stewart)
5:45 p.m. Heptathlon Javelin (Alecia Beckford-Stewart)
7:10 p.m. Women's 1,500m Semifinal (Katie Engel)
7:45 p.m. Heptathlon 800m (Alecia Beckford-Stewart)
8:35 p.m. Women's 100m Qualifying Round (Cheria Morgan)
9:45 p.m. Men's 400m Semifinal (Nathan Vadeboncoeur)
Saturday, July 5
4:20 p.m. Women's 100m Semifinal
5:40 p.m. Men's 400m Final
6:10 p.m. Women's 100m Final
6:30 p.m. Women's 1,500m Final
7:40 p.m. Women's 400m Hurdles Semifinal (Yvonne Mensah)
Sunday, July 6
2 p.m. Women's 200m Semifinal (Cheria Morgan)
2:55 p.m. Women's 400m Hurdles Final
4:25 p.m. Women's 200m Final