Junior Samantha Murphy and many of the Illini will make their indoor season debut at the Illini Open on Saturday.
Jan. 11, 2013
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- The Illinois women's track and field team will host the Illini Open along with the Illini men's team on Saturday, Jan. 12 at the UI Armory. The meet is free to the public and will begin at 10 a.m. with the weight throw, while the running events will get started at 1 p.m. A full meet schedule and heat sheets are attached above.
"This meet is a chance for everyone to get a feeling for racing again," head coach Tonja Buford-Bailey said. "A lot of them haven't raced in a really long time, so it'll be exciting for them to get into their uniforms and hear the gun go off for the first time this season. I'm excited to see Morolake in her Illini opener as she will look to lead the short sprints including the 60m dash. Also, Asia Thomas has had a great fall. We've been working a lot on race strategy and race preparation, so it would be good to see her have a good opener in her sophomore season."
Defending NCAA champion Ashley Spencer will run the 60m to start the year. Seven other Illini will compete in the event, including newcomer Morolake Akinosun who was the Illinois state champion and the state record holder in the short sprints (100m) last season and junior Breeana Coleman. The duo will also look to contribute in the 200m as the event holds the most Illinois entries of the meet with eight total. A total of four Orange and Blue athletes will compete in the 60m hurdles, led by Coleman who last year earned second-team All-America honors at the NCAA Championships in the event.
Three Illini will start the year running the 400m, including sophomore Asia Thomas who was part of the school record holding 4x400m relay squad last year. Junior Samantha Murphy and newcomer Ahlivia Spencer are set to run the 600m as Murphy competed in the event at the Big Ten Championships last year. Junior Katie Porada is the lone Illini to compete in the 800m as she looks to win the title for the second consecutive year while senior Madeline Aufmann and redshirt-freshman Alyssa Schneider will lead the four Illini entered in the mile race on Saturday.
"Samantha and Ahlivia will take on the 600m," Buford-Bailey said. "Samantha didn't have the best season last year so it'll be nice for her to come out strong on Saturday. Ahlivia is new so I'm seeing where she fits in events wise. This will be a good indicator of what her eventual events will be on the Big Ten level. Alyssa had a really fantastic cross country season and I want to see how that translates to the track. She's really excited about the season so I'm keeping my eye on her. In the multi's, Coach Erb has a lot of young athletes in the field events. I'm wanting to see them experiment with the new events they've learned."
In the field events, Big Ten champion Stephanie Richartz will lead a group of four Illini in the pole vault, including senior Elizabeth Eitzen who scored points at the indoor conference meet last year. Look for senior's Marissa Golliday and Kristen Morrison along with sophomore Kristen Wilson as they participate in the shot put. Golliday and Morrison will also compete in the long jump on Saturday.
Illinois will compete against runners from Northern Illinois, Butler, St. Louis, Rend Lake, Wabash, Hannibal LaGrange and Lindenwood along with unattached competitors. The Orange and Blue will be back in action next weekend at the UI Armory for the Illini Classic on Jan. 18-19.