Junior Samantha Murphy was one of three Illini to advance to the finals at the NCAA Championships.
June 5, 2013
EUGENE, Ore. -- At historic Hayward Field on Wednesday, three Illini runners advanced to the finals of their respective events including defending 400m champion Ashley Spencer, junior Samantha Murphy (800m) and freshman Morolake Akinosun (100m). Spencer, the defending champion raced to her second-fastest time this season of 51.61 in the 400m semifinal at the NCAA Championships and advanced to the event final. Murphy finished the 800m with a time of 2:04.20 and Akinosun crossed the finish line in a time of 11.34.
"Today was a great day for us," head coach Tonja Buford-Bailey said. "To compete and advance in all three events today was our goal. We look forward to continuing this success in the days to come."
Spencer, in her fifth 400m this year, Spencer ran her second-fastest mark this season (51.61), won the second heat and holds the third-fastest time overall going into the finals. The sophomore will now run in the event final on Friday night at 7:55 p.m. CT. She looks to become the first Illini to win back-to-back NCAA outdoor titles since Perdita Felicien in 2002-03.
In her first NCAA outdoor championship, Murphy advanced to the finals of the 800m with a time of 2:04.20. Murphy was in the back of the pack after 200m but pushed herself up to second at the bell. The Big Ten champion finished third in what was the fastest heat of the day and advanced on her time. The time was the second fastest for the junior this season and was the eighth fastest of the afternoon. Murphy will look to become the Illini's first ever 800m champion on Friday at 7:20 p.m. CT.
Akinosun advanced automatically to the finals of the 100m on Wednesday evening, finishing with a time of 11.34. The time is the second fastest this season and is the sixth best time overall coming into the finals which will be run on Friday night at 7:00 p.m. CT. She is one of three freshmen to advance and looks to be the highest placing Illini in the 100m since Benita Kelley placed seventh in 1997.
Also running in the 800m was junior Amanda Duvendack posted her third-fastest time of the season, crossing the finish line with a time of 2:06.96. The Big Ten point scorer finished fifth in her heat and 16th overall.
The Illini will run in two event semifinals at the NCAA Championships on Thursday. Akinosun will begin the action in the 200m at 6:00 p.m. CT followed by the 4x400m relay squad of senior Marissa Golliday, Akinosun, junior Ahlivia Spencer and Ashley Spencer at 8:20 p.m. CT. Full results and a recap can be found on fightingillini.com. Thursday's events will be streamed on ESPN3.com/WatchESPN.
Illinois Wednesday Results at NCAA Championships
Q/q= qualified for NCAA final round
6. Morolake Akinosun Q
3. Ashley Spencer 51.61 Q