Two-time national champion Angela Bizzarri makes her debut in the 3,000m at the Meyo Invitational on Saturday.
Feb. 4, 2010
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - With three meets down and the three to go before the Big Ten Championships, the Illinois women's track and field team nears the heart of its indoor schedule, as they prepare for the Meyo Invitational on Feb. 5-6. The two-day meet is one of the top indoor meets in the nation and will be held on an oversized track (300m) at the Loftus Center on the Notre Dame campus in South Bend, Ind. Friday's single session will begin at 5 p.m., while Saturday is divided into two sessions, with unseeded sections in the morning followed by the invitational sections in the afternoon.
"I'm excited about this meet because it's on a big track," head coach Tonja Buford-Bailey said. "If we want to reach some qualifying standards, we have a good shot to do it there. We have been training really hard and preparing well, so I look forward to our chances on the oversized track."
Fresh off a pair of victories at the Illinois Intercollegiate, junior Tamika Robinson leads the Illini sprinting corps in the 60m dash and 60m hurdles. Freshman Kayla Smith and senior Aja Evans also join Robinson in the 60m, but expect to make their marks in other events as well. Smith will also run the 200m, while Evans hopes to improve upon her provisional qualifying mark in the shot put.
After not competing last weekend, junior Melissa Bates is back in action and scheduled to run the 200m and 300m. Senior Paris Streeter and sophomores Latoya Griffith, Ashley Kelly and Jayla McArthur are also set to run the 300m, which will be the only time the Illini run the event this season.
"The 300m dash is a fun race to run," Buford-Bailey said. "This will be the only opportunity we will get to run that distance, so hopefully we can get a school record from one of our athletes."
In the 400m, freshman Marissa Golliday, Griffith and Streeter, who all finished in the top four at the Illinois Intercollegiate, will compete alongside Kelly and sophomore Ryisha Boyd. In the 4x400m relay, Illinois sends a squad made up of Kelly, Kayla Smith, Boyd and Bates. Senior Jamie Brusa (800m) and junior Shannon Phelan (1,000m) are the only Illini scheduled to run their respective events.
The Orange and Blue debut a number of distance runners who haven't competed since the NCAA Cross Country Championships, highlighted by senior Angela Bizzarri in the 3,000m, sophomore Kristin Sutherland in the 5,000m and junior Chantelle Groenewoud in the mile. The 2009 cross country national champion is joined by senior Ashley Thompson in the 3,000m, while a pair of seniors, Elizabeth Boyle and and Theresa Brokaw, will run with Sutherland in the 5,000m. Freshman Madeline Aufmann is the only other Illini running the mile.
In the field events, the Illini expect a number of solid performances across the board. Sophomore Alexandria Smith and freshman Kawanna Brooks will compete in the triple jump, while Brooks will also take part in the long jump along with senior Alecia Beckford-Stewart, Kayla Smith and McArthur. Sophomore Kendall McCaugherty and freshman Shinelle Proctor, who have three combined titles in the high jump this season, look to add a fourth in the event. Junior Kaitlin Vicari is the only Illini to take part in the pole vault.
Full results and a recap of the meet can be found on fightingillini.com after the meet. Next week, the Illini travel to Fayetteville, Ark., for the Tyson Invitational, which is held at the same site as the 2010 NCAA Indoor Championships.