Senior Alecia Beckford-Stewart will compete in four events at the season-opening SASF Invitational.
Jan. 14, 2010
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois women's track and field team kicks off competition for the 2010 indoor season at the SASF Invitational in Carbondale, Ill., on Jan. 15-16. The two-day meet at the Southern Illinois Student Recreation Center begins Friday with the weight throw, long jump and pole vault, and will conclude Saturday with the shot put, triple jump, high jump and all the running events.
"Everyone is back from break and training pretty heavily, so we are just excited to hear the gun go off and get back into competition," head coach Tonja Buford-Bailey said. "We will just try to get some of the kinks out at this first meet, and it will be a great opportunity for the freshmen to compete in an Illinois uniform and get used to the collegiate-level competition."
Illinois joins 16 other teams in the meet hosted by the Salukis, including Arkansas Pine Bluff, Arkansas State, Austin Peay, Florissant Valley, Lincoln (Mo.), Jacksonville State, Lindenwood, McKendree, Mississippi Valley State, Missouri Baptist, Rend Lake, Southeast Missouri, Southern, Saint Louis and Tennessee State.
The Illini boast four competitors in the long jump, including Alecia Beckford-Stewart, Kawanna Brooks, Jayla McArthur and Kayla Smith. Brooks will also compete in the triple jump along with Kristin Morrison, Alexandria Smith and Kelly Washington, while Beckford-Stewart also takes part in the high jump with Kendall McCaughterty and in the shot put along with three-time All-American Aja Evans. The duo of Kaitlin Vicari and Maria Scheet will compete in the pole vault.
On Saturday, Melissa Bates, Tyler Burke, Evans, Galina Falkowski, Ashley Kelly, Cheria Morgan, Tamika Robinson, K. Smith and Clarrisa Toomer are all scheduled to run the 60m dash. In the 60m hurdles, Illinois runners include Beckford-Stewart, Robinson and Nia Muhammad.
Illinois has its most competitors (12) in the 200m dash, including Burke, Brooks, Falkowski, Marissa Golliday, Kelly, Morgan, Robinson, A. Smith, K. Smith, Paris Streeter, Toomer and Washington. Four Illini will run the 400m in Ryisha Boyd, Golliday, Latoya Griffith and McArthur. The Illini also have two 4x400m relay teams, with Griffith, McArthur, Kelly and Golliday on one and Streeter, K. Smith and Bates on the other.
Stephanie Brown, Kendra Kennedy and Meagan Hynes are set to run the 800m, while Madeline Aufmann, Stacy Hague, Kelsey Seiler, Michelle Stratton and Mary Sullivan will all participate in the mile. Maggie Mulchrone and Courtney Yaeger are the only two Illini running distance events and will compete in the 3,000m.
"We are looking to get starter marks in a lot of different events just to see where we are," Buford-Bailey said. "We will use it as a jumpstart to the season, and are mainly focused on seeing how are freshmen and newcomers do."
Illinois will return to the track next weekend in hosting the annual Carle/Health Alliance Classic on Saturday, Jan. 23 at the UI Armory.