Illini Finish 11th at Big Ten Outdoor Championships
May 18, 2014
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Fighting Illini women's track and field team placed 11th at the 2014 Big Ten Outdoor Championships. The Orange and Blue totaled 21 points over the weekend, with eight of those points coming today from Kandie Bloch-Jones, who finished runner-up in the high jump.
"Today and this weekend were very disappointing," said head coach Ron Garner. "I don't want to accept that last place in the conference is okay, and I don't want the team to accept that. We had some opportunities that didn't materialize and that we didn't take advantage of. I think all of us, myself, the staff and the athletes, are disappointed. It was a tough weekend all the way around. However, we did have some bright spots such as performances by Alyssa Schneider in the 10,000m, Samone Thompson in the heptathlon and Kristen Wilson in the shot put."
Indoor conference champion Kandie Bloch-Jones placed second in the high jump with a mark of 1.76m, her second-best of the season. The freshman cleared the same height as Iowa's Khanishah Williams, but lost the tie-breaker to finish runner-up.
"Kandie Bloch-Jones competed for another Big Ten title today and lost on the tie-breaker," said Garner. "Her and Williams cleared the same height, but Williams won because she had a miss at an earlier height, whereas Kandie had a miss at the previous height. It was a tough loss for Kandie, but Kandie is a champion as she's proven all year. She has a standard for herself to go out and compete every time and she expects to be at the top. That's who she is, so I'm excited she's putting herself in that position."
All three Illini that competed in yesterday's 100m hurdles prelims qualified for today's finals. Jesica Ejesieme led the trio, placing fifth with a time of 13.37, her second-fastest time of the season. Mobolaji Adeokun added a point to Illinois' score with an eighth-place finish, while Kawanna Brooks stumbled near the end of the race and crossed the finish line ninth with a time of 18.90. Ejesieme also competed in the 400m hurdles and scored three more points with a sixth-place finish.
"We had three hurdlers make the 100m hurdles final," said Garner. "It was a big improvement for Jesica for her to come down to 13.37. She neared her personal-best and she's having very consistent performances. She's right in the area where if she improves a little she can secure a spot to go to NCCAs, and that's a real positive. In the 400m hurdles, I think the weekend affected her from a fatigue stand point, but in two weeks she'll be ready to go."
Big Ten indoor champion Ahlivia Spencer added one point to Illinois' score with an eighth-place finish in the 800m. The senior looked to finish in the top-three with seconds left in the race, but stumbled steps before the finish line to finish the race with a time of 2:12.36.
"It was a tough situation in the 800m," said Garner. "We thought Ahlivia Spencer could win and repeat as champion, and it appeared that way as she was coming down the straightaway. It's unfortunate, but she'll have another opportunity at the fist round of the NCAAs."
"In the discus today, a positive was that Mariah made it to the finals for the first time," said Garner. "However, we had two people ranked in the top-seven and only got ninth place with no scoring. Both will be back next year and gained some valuable experience, and hopefully both will have the opportunity to go to prelims of NCAAs. "
"This meet is history and we're going to focus on moving forward," added Garner. "We're going to look at where we're going and not where we've been. We've had some learning experiences this year, and our staff has worked very hard to help make this transition a positive one. I appreciate not only their efforts, but their loyalty. I know our staff will respond to this in a positive way because they've been champions at other places and I expect our team to be the same. I also want to thank this year's team and their families for their support. Lastly, I'd like to congratulate the men's team on their second-place finish. They are a championship program and have contended for a title the past two years. They represented Illinois incredibly today."
Illinois is off next weekend before traveling to Fayetteville, Arkansas on May 29-31 for the NCAA West Preliminary Round.
"This week we'll announce our signing class that we think will make a positive and immediate impact on our team next year," said Garner. "In addition, we're fortunate to have Breeana Coleman, a Big Ten champion in the hurdles, return next year. Stephanie Richartz, a three-time conference champion in the pole vault, will be back, as well. Amanda Duvendack will compete outdoors next year and Mariah Smith has opted to come back for another year. We're excited for the future of this program."
Final Team Results
Illinois Sunday Results at Big Ten Outdoor Championships
400m Hurdles (FINAL)
High Jump (FINAL)
Pole Vault (FINAL)