Nine Illini Win Event Titles at Orange & Blue Open
Feb. 22, 2014
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- The Illinois women's track and field team returned to the UI Armory on Saturday for the Orange & Blue Open, the final meet of the regular indoor season, where nine Illini won event titles. Personal-bests were recorded in 11 events, including Jennifer DeBellis setting the fourth-best mark in school history in the pole vault.
"It was a great effort today," said head coach Ron Garner. "It was what we wanted. We rested some people this weekend, we want them to be at their full potential going into Big Tens. After traveling the last couple weeks and now getting ready for Big Tens, having a smaller meet where we had time to refine techniques and build confidence was nice. Everywhere I looked I saw our athletes giving their best effort."
The Illini notched three top-five finishes in the 60m dash, including Kymbriona Taylor who won the event with a personal-best. Moriyike Akinosun clocked a season-best time to place third, while Claire Kieger finished fourth. Samone Thompson and Claire Kieger each clocked personal-bests to win their events, as Thompson won the 60m hurdles and Kieger won the 200m dash. The Illini finished one-two in the 400m, as Asia Thomas clocked a season-best time to win the event while Chloe Schmidt recorded a personal-best to finish second. Nicole Choquette recorded the top collegiate time in the 800m run, while Britten Petrey clocked a personal-best time to win the 3,000m. The 4x400m relay squad of Chloe Schmidt, Nicole Choquette, Kaleigh Evans and Michelle Frigo also notched a first-place finish.
"Asia Thomas came out and gave a seasonal-best today in the 400m, and that was critical because she'll move up significantly on the Big Ten list," said Garner. "Samone Thompson matched her season-best in the high jump and got a personal-best in the 60m hurdles, which was great for us. Nicole Choquette is really improving. Every time she steps on the track she's happy to be here and gives her best effort, and that's what we're looking for."
Jennifer DeBellis won the pole vault title, reaching a personal-best mark of 3.86m which is the fourth-best in school history, while Kandie Bloch-Jones took first in the high jump. Samone Thompson won her second event of the day in the long jump, while Mariah Smith threw a personal-best in the weight throw to take second place.
"Jenn DeBellis did great in the pole vault," said Garner. "For her to come out and PR will really give her confidence going into Big Tens. Mariah Smith also had a personal-best in the weight throw, which was big."
The Illini travel to the Big Ten Indoor Championships next weekend, which take place in Geneva, Ohio on Feb. 28-March 1.
Illinois First-Place Finishes: