Women's Cross Country, Track & Field
Illini Collect Nine Titles in Home Opener

Samantha Murphy was one of nine Illini to win a title in the season opener at the UI Armory.
Samantha Murphy was one of nine Illini to win a title in the season opener at the UI Armory.

Jan. 12, 2013

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- In the indoor season opener, the Illini recorded nine event titles during the contest. There were four Orange and Blue athletes who placed their names into the school's top-10 performance lists. The squad will return to the UI Armory next weekend when they host the Illini Classic beginning on Friday, Jan. 18.

"I thought we did well today," head coach Tonja Buford-Bailey said. "I think Morolake Akinosun and Samantha Murphy's performances highlighted the meet. We have a lot of national leading marks including the hurdles, 200m, 400m, 600m and 800m. It was also good to see Alyssa Schneider do so well today. She really transitioned well from the cross country season and ran great in the mile. Also having a great day was Marissa Goliday. She improved upon her personal bests in her events by a big margin. It's exciting to see her so motivated to achieve her goals."

In the short distances, the Illini went one-two in the 60m dash as newcomer Morolake Akinosun took the title with a time of 7.43 while sophomore Ashley Spencer finished shortly behind with a time of 7.48. Akinosun's time was the 10th fastest in school history. Junior Breeana Coleman was the first Illini across the line in the 60m hurdles, finishing with a time of 8.30, just one hundredth of a second off the top-10 all-time performance lists in the event. The Illini finished one through six in the 200m as Akinosun picked up her second title of the day, crossing the finish line with a time of 24.56. Ejesieme finished second with a time of 25.00 followed by newcomer Lauren Hollingsworth in third with a time of 25.07. Sophomore Asia Thomas had a successful home opener, winning the 400m with a time of 55.77 which ranks 20th in the nation currently.

Redshirt-freshman Alyssa Schneider continued her success from cross country onto the track after wining the mile title, recording a sub-five minute mile with a time of 4:55. With one of the best performances of the meet, junior Samantha Murphy won the 600m in a time of 1:30.59, the second best mark in school history. The Illini also picked up a victory in the 800m with junior Katie Porada finishing first with a personal-best time of 2:13.04.

Newcomer Jen DeBellis and junior Elizabeth Eitzen both performed well in their season opener in the pole vault as DeBellis took first with a mark of of 11-9 3/4 (3.60m) and Eitzen placing second with the same mark but missed her first attempt at the height. DeBellis inches into the top-10, tying the ninth best jump in school history.

Senior Marissa Golliday participated in multiple events during the competition, including winning the long jump as she set a new personal-best mark of 18-3 1/4 (5.57m). She also competed in the shot put, finishing fifth and setting a new personal-best mark of 37-11 1/4 (11.56m) and the 60m hurdles where she crossed the line fourth. Mariah Smith collected an additional title for the Orange and Blue, winning the weight throw with a mark of 49-2 1/2 (14.99m), the sixth-best mark in school history and a personal-best for the sophomore.

The 4x400m relay squad of Asia Thomas, Chloe Schmidt, Porada and Golliday combined for a time of 3:53.85 to wrap up the final victory for the Orange and Blue.

The Orange and Blue will be back in action next weekend at the UI Armory for the Illini Classic on Jan. 18-19. The Illini will compete against Bradley, Lincoln (MO), Marquette, SIU-Edwardsville, SIU-Carbondale and Western Illinois. The Classic will begin at 4 p.m. with the women's pentathlon.