Senior Aja Evans notched the Big Ten Championships record and reset her own school record in the shot put with a 56-0 1/2 (17.08m) to take home the event crown.
Feb. 27, 2010
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - A pair of seniors tallied school records on day one of the Big Ten Indoor Championships, as the Illinois women's track and field team sits in second place with 37 points through six scored events. Senior Angela Bizzarri eclipsed her old school record and ran an impressive 9:10.16 to win the 3,000m title, edging PSU's Franek (9:10.68) by half a second. Senior Aja Evans notched the Big Ten Championships record and reset her own school record in the shot put with a 56-0 1/2 (17.08m) to take home the event crown.
"Aja was really impressive in the shot put and set the Big Ten record," head coach Tonja Buford-Bailey said. "She has been getting better each week and really put it together at the right time. Bizzarri and Franek ran stride for stride the whole way, but (Angela) just sprinted her out in the end. She just has that kick, which makes it so tough to beat her."
Both victories marked the first career Big Ten indoor titles for the Illini All-Americans, as each athlete turned in runner-up finishes in their respective events at last year's Big Ten Indoor Championships. Bizzarri was able to get the best of Franek, who defeated Bizzarri at the 2009 Big Ten Cross Country Championships, and Evans was victorious despite being ranked third heading into the meet. Each athlete also notched an automatic qualifying mark for the NCAA Indoor Championships.
"A Big Ten indoor title was the one thing they still had hanging over their heads, so they were able to go out exactly how they needed to," Buford-Bailey said.
Senior Alecia Beckford-Stewart set a new personal best with 3,841 points in the pentathlon to earn a runner-up finish and notch a provisional qualifying mark. The Brampton, Ontario native finished third in the 60m hurdles (8.81), fourth in the high jump (1.69m), sixth in the shot put (11.20m), second in the long jump (5.71m) and seventh in the 800m (2:31.13). She also scored for the Illini in the long jump, placing sixth overall with a leap of 19-0 ½ (5.80m).
In the 3000m, the Orange and Blue also scored points thanks to sophomore Kristin Sutherland (9:34.07) and senior Elizabeth Boyle (9:37.35), who smashed their personal bests to place sixth and seventh, respectively. Bizzarri, Sutherland and Boyle also will run the 5,000m on Sunday.
"The 3,000m race was really exciting not only because of Bizzarri's win, but Kristin (Sutherland) and Elizabeth (Boyle) were also able to score points for us," Buford-Bailey said.
Illinois qualified five for event finals on Sunday, with junior Tamika Robinson in both the 60m and 60m hurdles and three Illini in the 400m. Robinson tallied a new personal best and hit the provisional standard in the 60m hurdles with a time of 8.25, which was the third fastest of the day. The Chicago, Ill., native also placed seventh in the prelims of the 60m dash to advance to the finals.
In the 400m, junior Melissa Bates (54.94), sophomore Ashley Kelly (54.47) and Marissa Golliday (55.09) all moved on to Sunday's event finals. The Illini were unable to advance anyone in the 200m, despite everyone running a personal best. Bates just missed qualifying with a 24.27 followed by Kelly at 24.38, freshman Kayla Smith at 24.49 and junior Cheria Morgan at 24.82. Sophomore Latoya Griffith also just missed qualifying for the finals in the 600m after running a personal best time of 1:32.48.
"Even though everyone ran PRs in the 200m, we got shutout from the finals," Buford-Bailey said. "I couldn't ask them to do much more than that since they ran lifetime bests."
The Illini's final point of the day came in the distance medley relay, where the foursome of junior Shannon Phelan, sophomore Jayla McArthur, freshman Madeline Aufmann and junior Chantelle Groenewoud placed eighth with a time of 11:38.66.
"We just have to fight and finish strong tomorrow," Buford-Bailey said. "I certainly think we will score better than we did last year, which will be good for us because that will propel us into the outdoor season."
The Big Ten Indoor Championships concludes tomorrow beginning at 10 a.m. CT with the high jump. The last event of the meet, the 4x400m relay, is scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m.
Illinois Saturday Results at Big Ten Indoor Championships
Q/q = qualified for Sunday event final
Shot Put (FINAL)
1. Aja Evans 56-0 1/2 (17.08m); 10 team points
2. Alecia Beckford-Stewart 3,841 points; 8 team points
Distance Medley Relay (FINAL)
8. Illinois 11:38.66; 1 team point
(Phelan, McArthur, Aufmann, Groenewoud)
10. Latoya Griffith 1:32.48
21. Jamie Brusa 2:16.53
One Mile (Preliminaries)
17. Chantelle Groenewoud 5:00.57
Big Ten Women's Indoor Championships Team Standings (Though six events)
1. Minnesota 41
2. ILLINOIS 37
3. Purdue 36
4. Wisconsin 34
5. Indiana 22
6. Penn State 21
7. Michigan 14
8. Ohio State 13
9. Michigan State 10
10. Iowa 6