Amanda Duvendack clocked the second-fastest time in the Big Ten and the fifth-fastest time in school history to place third in the 800m.
Jan. 25, 2014
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The Illinois women's track and field team had a very successful weekend at the Rod McCravy Memorial Invitational. Named this week's USTFCCCA Division I National Meet of the Week, the meet featured three teams ranked in the top-six in the country. The Illini recorded 10 top-10 finishes, set nine personal-bests and had four athletes move up on Illinois' all-time top-10 lists. Three Illini also clocked marks that rank among the best in the Big Ten.
"I don't know if there's a better meet in the country in regards to the teams that are here," said head coach Ron Garner. "It's a great meet and a great environment to get us prepared for the Big Ten season."
The Illini immediately got off to a great start on the first day of competition on Friday. Kandie Bloch-Jones continued her success in the high jump, placing third with a personal-best mark of 5-9 3/4 (1.77m). The mark is currently the best in the Big Ten and tied for the sixth-best in school history. Jennifer DeBellis also set a new personal-best in the pole vault, placing 12th with a mark of 12-2 3/4 (3.73m), the eighth-best mark in school history. Amanda Fox placed fifth in her first-ever 5,000m race, and Asia Thomas set a personal-best 200m time of 24.55 to place eighth in the event.
"One of the highlights of Friday was Kandie Bloch-Jones in the high jump," said Garner. "She got to 1.77m and had some real good attempts at 1.80m, which is promising. Also, Asia Thomas had a good day and ran a personal-best in the 200m."
The Orange and Blue carried the success over to Saturday as well, as six Illini set new personal-bests. In the 60m hurdles, Kawanna Brooks tied her personal-best in the preliminary round and went on to place seventh in the blue section finals. Jesica Ejesieme competed in the white section and placed fifth, while Kymbriona Taylor placed seventh in the 60m dash.
Amanda Duvendack competed in her first 800m race of the season and clocked a personal-best time of 2:07.06 to place third. The time is currently the second-fastest in the Big Ten, the fifth-fastest in the nation and the fourth-fastest in school history. Nicole Choquette also competed in the event, placing 10th in her first-ever 800m race. After entering the record books in the mile run last weekend, Alyssa Schneider did the same this weekend in the 3,000m. She placed sixth after clocking a personal-best 9:28.72, which is currently ranked third in the Big Ten and fourth on Illinois' all-time top-10 list. The 4x400m relay team of Asia Thomas, Amanda Duvendack, Jesica Ejesieme and Kymbriona Taylor clocked a season-best time of 3:46.33 to place seventh.
"It was our first time on the road, so getting that first one under our belt was important," said assistant coach Scott Jones. "Alyssa is coming off of a great cross country season, and I think that gave her confidence coming into the indoor season.She has talent, she has confidence and she has fitness, and that's a really good combination. Amanda has been doing a great job and it's real exciting to see her near the top of the Big Ten list. It's going to be really fun to watch her grow this season, as well."
The Illini have next weekend off before traveling to South Bend, Ind. for the Notre Dame Meyo Invitational on Feb. 7-8.
Illinois Top-10 Finishes:
60m Hurdles BLUE
7. Kawanna Brooks, 8.64
60m Hurdles WHITE
5. Jesica Ejesieme, 8.56
60m Dash BLUE
7. Kymbriona Taylor, 7.75
8. Asia Thomas, 24.55
6. Alyssa Schneider, 9:28.72
5. Amanda Fox, 17:50.04
7. Thomas, Duvendack, Ejesieme, Taylor: 3:46.33
3. Kandie Bloch-Jones, 5-9 3/4 (1.77m)