Spencer and 4x400m Relay Team Win Big Ten Titles
Feb. 25, 2012
LINCOLN, Neb. - Freshman Ashley Spencer added two Big Ten individual titles to her already incredible resume this season as the Indianapolis, Ind., native won the 200m and 400m for her first career conference crowns. The 4x400m relay squad of Asia Thomas, Ashley Kelly, Latoya Griffith and Spencer set a Big Ten meet record and school record to add another Big Ten title for the Orange and Blue. The Illini had eight top-five finishes on Saturday at Nebraska's Devaney Center Indoor Track to conclude the 2012 Big Ten Championships in fourth place with 79 points, the highest finish for the Illini since the 2007 season.
"It was a really successful meet for us," head coach Tonja Buford-Bailey said. "The best we could have done would have been fourth and we did that. We did the best we possible could have done with the people we have here, so it was a really successful meet for us."
In the 200m, Spencer crossed the finish line with a new school record of 23.24, breaking the 22-year old record set by Celena Mondie-Miller in 1989. With the victory, Spencer became Illinois' first indoor 200m champion since head coach Tonja Buford-Bailey in 1993. Her time ranks second fastest in the nation and first in the Big Ten as it's the freshman's fourth title this season in the event. Spencer added her second Big Ten title in the 400m, where the Illinois school record holder finished in a time of 53.49.
"Spencer was just a star during the championships," Buford-Bailey said. "She surprised a lot of people there and set the whole place on fire."
The Illini notched their third Big Ten title of the championships in the 4x400m relay, when the four Illini set a Big Ten meet record as well as a new school record with a time of 3:34.89 to win the event. The win marks the first time since the 2005 season, the Illini have won a Big Ten title in the relay.
"I think Spencer's results made everyone step up and made the relay's more exciting," Buford-Bailey said. "A lot of people really stepped up in a lot of areas."
After setting a personal-best in the 60m hurdles prelims yesterday, sophomore Breeana Coleman finished runner-up in the 60m hurdles and bested her time with an 8.17 in the finals. Sophomore Jesica Ejesieme also placed fifth with a time of 8.28 and finished ninth in the 200m with a time of 24.60.
Senior Ryisha Boyd earned three points for the Illini as she finished sixth in the 600m with a time of 1:31.00, just off her personal-best while Jayla McArthur set a personal-best in the event, with a time of 1:31.79 to take ninth place. Sophomore Amanda Duvendack added four more team points with her fifth place finish and a new career-best time of 2:08.74, a time that ranks seventh fastest in school history.
"I think it was more important for them to see what it takes to be successful," Buford-Bailey said. "It's been a couple years since we've had that kind of success here and it was good for them to see that and get into the winning spirit.
A full list of Illinois' Saturday results can be found below along with the final team scores from the meet. Nebraska won the Big Ten title with 114.50 points while Ohio State (106) took second and Penn State (99) finished third.
Illinois Saturday Results at the Big Ten Indoor Championships
High Jump (FINAL)
Triple Jump (FINAL)
Big Ten Women's Indoor Championships Final Team Standings