Ashley Spencer and the 4x400m relay advanced to the finals and set a new school record at the NCAA Championships.
June 6, 2013
EUGENE, Ore. -- The Illini competed in two event semifinals on Thursday at Hayward Field as the 4x400m relay highlighted the competition, setting a new school record and advancing to the finals of the event on Saturday. The squad picked up the first non-automatic qualifying spot. Freshman Morolake Akinosun also participated in the 200m.
"We are having an outstanding meet," head coach Tonja Buford-Bailey said. "We set another school record in the 4x400m to advance to the finals. All of the girls are stepping up at the right time. We have four track events and two field events in which we can score points on the national level, which is great."
In the 4x400m relay, senior Marissa Golliday came out of the blocks in lane four before giving the baton to junior Ahlivia Spencer, who put the Illini into third position. After the second handoff, sophomore Ashley Spencer ran a solid leg before handing it to Akinosun. Akinosun pushed the Illini into second place on the back stretch but was beat out at the finish line to help the Orange and Blue finish third in the heat with a new school-record time of 3:30.54. It's the second consecutive meet the women have rewritten the Illinois school record books, as they qualified for the NCAA Championships by running the previous school record time of 3:30.76. The time on Thursday night was the seventh fastest of the evening.
Akinosun ran her final race of the season in the 200m on Thursday out of lane eight. The freshman crossed the finish line in a time of 23.52 to finish sixth in the second heat. The time was 19th overall and tied for the third-best this season.
Junior Stephanie Richartz will begin competition for the Illini on Friday afternoon in the pole vault at 5:15 p.m. CT. Three Illini track athletes will be in action later that evening beginning with Akinosun in the 100m at 7 p.m. CT, followed by junior Samantha Murphy in the 800m at 7:20 p.m. CT. Both Akinosun and Murphy would be Illinois' first ever national champion in their respective events. Wrapping up competition for the Orange and Blue on Friday will be Spencer in the 400m. The sophomore looks to defend her national title in the event and the first Illini to win back-to-back NCAA outdoor titles since Perdita Felicien in 2002-03.
Friday's events will be televised on ESPNU in a window beginning at 6:30 p.m. CT or on the Pac-12 Live Stream. A full recap and results can be found on fightingillini.com following the competition of each day.
Illinois Thursday Results at NCAA Championships
Q/q= qualified for NCAA final round
* = school record
19. Morolake Akinosun 23.52