Sophomore Ashley Spencer reset the Illinois school record in the 400m and currently owns the fastest time in the NCAA.
Feb. 9, 2013
GENEVA, Ohio -- The Fighting Illini women's track and field team wrapped up competition at the Spire Invitational, having an extremely successful weekend as two Illini set school records and recorded 11 performances that cracked the schools top-10 lists.
"Overall we had great performances from this meet," head coach Tonja Buford-Bailey said. "It has been the best so far this season and is great going into the conference meet in a couple weeks. Overall, girls either ran close to their season best, a personal best or was in the top-10 school list. Highlights of the meet would be Ashley Spencer in the 400m and Samantha Murphy in the 800m. Both smash the school record, Ashley by a second and a half and Samantha by over two seconds."
Sophomore Ashley Spencer won two event titles on Saturday, resetting the school record in the 400m and finishing first in the 200m. In the 400m, Spencer crossed the line with a time of 52.07 which not only set the Illinois record, but a new Spire Invitational meet record by almost one second. The time also is the fastest in the nation and leads the Big Ten.
Junior Samantha Murphy continues her amazing season as she broke the school record in the 800m. Murphy crossed the finish line with a time of 2:04.17 which was one of two times to set a new meet record in the event. It marks the first time since Carlene Robinson set the school record in 2005 and breaks the old mark by over two seconds. Murphy's time currently ranks fourth best in the nation.
Freshman Morolake Akinosun finished first in the 60m where she matched her personal best time of 7.38 in the event. The mark is seventh best in Illinois history. Akinosun then set another career best in the 200m, finishing fifth with a time of 23.72 which is sixth fastest in school history. Also in the 400m, Asia Thomas set a new career best time of 54.86 to crack into the top-10 list, at ninth.
Two other Illini athletes joined Murphy in the top-10 in the 800m as Ahlivia Spencer and Chloe Schmidt both ran personal bests. Spencer ran a time of 2:07.38 which is fifth in school history, while Schmidt finished with a time of 2:08.54 which ranks as ninth best in the program. In the mile, junior Katie Porada and senior Madeline Aufmann set career bests. Porada finished sixth with a time of 4:43.24 and Aufmann clocked a time of 4:54.79. Porada's sit places her at fifth in the performance lists.
In the 60m hurdles, sophomore Breeana Coleman and junior Jesica Ejesieme advanced to the finals and finished third and fourth, respectively. Coleman set a season best time of 8.25 while Ejesieme finished with a 8.31, also the best time this year.
The 4x400m relay team of Ejesieme, Akinosun, Ahlivia Spencer and Marissa Golliday placed first in the event with a time of 3:37.19 which set a new meet record and ranks 10th fastest in school history.
In the field events, Golliday finished the long jump with a mark of 18-3 1/4 (5.57m) to placed tied for 11th, while senior Kristin Morrison set a mark of 17-4 3/4 (5.30m) in the event. Newcomer Vicky Pavlou competed in the triple jump and placed 19th with a jump of 37-4 1/2 (11.39m).
"This weekend really boosted confidence and motivation in everyone," Buford-Bailey said. "People feed off each other and when they see success with other teammates, they want to do well."
The Orange and Blue team will have next weekend off but then travel back to Geneva, Ohio to compete in the Big Ten Indoor Championships on Friday, Feb. 22 and Saturday, Feb. 23.