Senior Angela Bizzarri won her fourth and fifth career Big Ten titles at her final conference meet on Sunday.
May 16, 2010
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - After winning a pair of Big Ten titles at the indoor championships, senior Angela Bizzarri duplicated the feat on Sunday at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships. The three-time national champion broke her own school record in a thrilling 1,500m photo-finish victory before defending her title in the 5,000m. As a team, the Orange and Blue wrapped up the conference championships in fifth place with 87 points at Indiana's Robert C. Haugh Complex.
Bizzarri clocked a personal-best 4:15.42 and edged Minnesota's Gabriele Anderson (4:15.43) by .01 seconds in the 1,500m race, which was too close to call by the naked eye. The Mason, Ohio native was out in front coming down the home stretch and barely held off Anderson, who made a late charge but could not surpass Bizzarri.
Two hours after the dramatic finish, the 2009 Big Ten 5,000m winner easily repeated as champion in the event with a time of 16:12.35, closing out her career with a fifth Big Ten title. Bizzarri won the race by over four seconds, finishing in front of Michigan State's Emily MacLeod (16:16.74), and scored a combined 20 team points for the Illini.
"Angela is, as usual, a winner," head coach Tonja Buford-Bailey said. "She comes out and wins when she needs to do it. She needed to run a personal best to win the 1,500m, so she did it. We are going to really miss her after this year."
Junior Tamika Robinson earned a pair of silver medals on Sunday, anchoring the 4x100m relay to a second-place finish and taking second in the 100m hurdles. The foursome of junior Cheria Morgan, sophomore Ashley Kelly, freshman Kayla Smith and Robinson timed 44.89 and crossed the line just behind first-place Penn State (44.62). The Illini relay ran nearly a full second faster than last year, where they finished third.
Robinson also came in right behind a Nittany Lion in the 100m hurdles, as she ran 13.29 to notch the runner-up spot. Penn State's Aleesha Barber won the race with a time of 13.11.
Kelly not only helped the 4x100m relay to a runner-up finish, but also scored in both the 200m and 400m, adding a combined 10 points to the Illini team total. The sophomore turned in a personal best in the 400m with a time of 53.07, good for third place, and led the Illini trio in the 200m with a fifth-place finish after timing 24.00.
Two other Illini scored in the 200m, as Smith (24.52) took seventh and junior Melissa Bates (24.54) came in eighth. Freshman Marissa Golliday also scored in the 400m with a seventh-place showing and time of 54.64, while Bates placed ninth at 55.12.
"It was really good to have three people score in the 200m after we got shut out during indoors," Buford-Bailey said. "The 400m could have gone better, but we still scored eight points in the event, so we can't be mad about that."
In the 400m hurdles, sophomore Latoya Griffith posted a third-place finish for the second straight year. The St. Andrews, Barbados native timed 58.54 and finished behind a pair of Nittany Lions, Fawn Dorr (57.50) and Megan Duncan (57.88).
A strong performance by the Illini 4x400m relay closed out the Big Ten Championships for the Orange and Blue. The quartet of sophomore Ryisha Boyd, Kelly, Griffith and Golliday notched a third-place finish with a time of 3:37.39.
"We had many great performances, but I still think we can do better," Buford-Bailey said. "Angela obviously ran extremely well, and Tamika came through with a second-place finish in the hurdles. Ashley also had a big personal best in the 400m and both relays ran really strong."
In the field events, two Illini, freshman Kawanna Brooks and sophomore Kendall McCaugherty, just missed scoring with ninth-place finishes. Brooks tallied a mark of 39-7 (12.06m) in the triple jump while McCaugherty cleared 5-8 ½ (1.74m) in the high jump.
Penn State took home the Big Ten team title for the third straight year with 133.50 points. Minnesota came in second with 123 points followed by Wisconsin (101.50) in third and Indiana (92.50) in fourth.
The Illinois women's track and field will head to Austin, Texas in two weeks for the NCAA Preliminary Round of Championship from May 27-29 at the University of Texas. The Illini athletes who qualify for the opening round of competition will be announced later this week.
Illinois Sunday Results at Big Ten Outdoor Championships
100m Hurdles (Prelims)
2. Tamika Robinson 13.29; 8 team points
400m Hurdles (FINAL)
3. Latoya Griffith 58.54; 6 team points
Final Team Results
1. Penn State - 133.50
2. Minnesota - 123
3. Wisconsin - 101.50
4. Indiana - 92.50
5. Illinois - 87
6. Ohio State - 79
7. Michigan State - 63
8. Michigan - 56
9. Purdue - 49.50
10. Iowa - 34