Freshman Morolake Akinosun looks to improve her times at the Husker Invitational as she holds two top-10 times in the Big Ten.
Jan. 29, 2013
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- The Illinois women's track and field team will split up for a pair of meets this weekend, as a group of distance runners will compete at the Notre Dame Meyo Invitational while the majority of the squad will take part in the Frank Sevigne Husker Invitational, both on Friday, Feb. 1 and Saturday, Feb. 2. Two athletes are slated to run distance events in South Bend, Ind., while the rest of the team will compete in Lincoln, Neb., at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.
"This is our first big weekend," head coach Tonja Buford-Bailey said. "It's our first road test and its against really good top-20 competition. This will be the biggest test of where we are so far as a team. It will give us a chance to compete against the national leaders."
The two Illini competing at Notre Dame include senior Courtney Yaeger in the 5,000m and junior Stephanie Morgan in the 1,000m. Morgan will compete on the track for the first time this season. Both events will take place on Friday evening.
"We are excited to see Courtney and Stephanie race with some great competition this weekend," assistant coach Jeremy Rasmussen said. "With Courtney running the 5,000m, the Meyo Invitational has been historically a great place to run one during the indoor season. Stephanie will use the 1,000m race as a season opener and we are excited to have her back on the track competing."
The Orange and Blue boast several athletes among the top-10 in their respective events on the Big Ten list, with many scheduled to compete this weekend. Fresh off a great start to the season, freshman Morolake Akinosun will be in action in the 60m and 200m. Akinosun is 12th in the NCAA and leads the conference in the 60m with her personal-best time of 7.38 and is fourth in the Big Ten in the 200m with a time of 23.92. Competing alongside Akinosun is Jesica Ejesieme who is ranked 10th in the 200m. Ejesieme will also compete in the 60m hurdles along with sophomore Breeana Coleman who own the first and second times in the event in the Big Ten.
Asia Thomas, a two-time first place finisher in the 400m this year will look to improve upon her time in the event as she currently holds the third fastest time in the Big Ten and 20th in the nation. Joining Thomas in the 400m will be three other Illini including sophomore Ashley Spencer, Ahlivia Spencer and Lauren Hollingsworth. Ahlivia Spencer is the lone Illini to compete in the 600m as her personal-best time of 1:29.49 sits at fourth fastest in the conference. A pair of junior's are set to run the 800m as Samantha Murphy looks to continue her incredible season as she leads the conference in the event and is ninth fastest in the NCAA. Also in the event, Big Ten point scorer Amanda Duvendack is set to open her 2013 season.
Other Illini to keep an eye on over the weekend includes junior Stephanie Richartz in the pole vault. Richartz holds the second highest jump in the Big Ten and is tied for 13th best in the NCAA. Senior Marissa Golliday is scheduled to doubt in this weekend as she looks to improve upon her high jump mark as she already is tied for ninth best in the conference. She is also one of three to compete in the long jump.
Full results and a recap can be found on fightingillini.com after the completion of the meets. Next weekend, the Illini will head to Geneva, Ohio to compete at the Spire Division 1 Invitational on Friday, Feb. 8 and Saturday, Feb. 9. The Spire Invitational will be the site of the 2013 Big Ten Indoor Championships.