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    Illinois to Face Top Competition at Tyson Invitational
    Sophomore Ryisha Boyd is part of the 4x400m relay that looks to improve upon the provisional qualifying mark achieved at the Meyo Invitational.

    Sophomore Ryisha Boyd is part of the 4x400m relay that looks to improve upon the provisional qualifying mark achieved at the Meyo Invitational.

    Feb. 11, 2010

    Tyson Invitational Schedule and Heat Sheets Get Acrobat Reader

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - In continued preparation for the postseason, the Illinois women's track and field team heads to Fayetteville, Ark., to compete at the Tyson Invitational, held on Feb. 12-13 at the Randal Tyson Track Center, which is the same site as the NCAA Indoor Championships. The Illini send 23 athletes to the loaded meet, featuring over 50 collegiate teams and some of the top pros in the country. Competition begins at noon CT on both Friday and Saturday, with live results and a live stream (subscription required) available at ArkansasRazorbacks.com.

    "This will be our most intense competition, but our preparation has remained the same," head coach Tonja Buford-Bailey said. "We knew it was going to get tougher week to week, so we have tried to stay sharp in practice and get better with each week."

    Illinois will face its toughest field yet, with 13 of the Top 25 teams in the nation and five Big Ten foes (Indiana, Michigan, Penn State, Wisconsin) in attendance. The meet will provide a preview for the NCAA Indoor Championships (March 12-13), as the athletes will run on a banked track for the first time this season.

    Senior All-American Angela Bizzarri will run the mile on Friday, after an impressive season debut last weekend at the Meyo Invitational. Bizzarri ran the fourth-fastest 3,000m time (9:16.75) in school history and provisionally qualified for the NCAA Championships in the event. She now owns four of the top five best performances in the event, including the school record (9:11.62).

    The Illini are looking to lower their time in the 4x400m relay, as freshman Kayla Smith will join the trio of sophomore Ryisha Boyd, sophomore Ashley Kelly, and junior Melissa Bates to run this week. Last week at Notre Dame, the quartet of freshman Marissa Golliday, Kelly, Boyd and Bates won the event with an NCAA provisional qualifying time of 3:39.00.

    "We are mixing it up a little bit this week in our 4x400m relay," Buford Bailey said. "Kayla is one of our fastest 200m runners, so we want to see how that transfers to the 400m leg."

    Smith also is scheduled to run the 60m and 200m along with competing in the long jump. Boyd and Kelly also will run the 400m along with Bates, who competes in the event for the first time since winning it at the Carle/Health Alliance Classic.

    Junior Tamika Robinson has been one of the Illini's top performers all season, and will run her customary 60m and 60m hurdles this weekend. Robinson, who just missed provisionally qualifying for the NCAA Championships in the hurdles by a hundredth of a second at the Illinois Intercollegiate with a time of 8.44, looks to hit a qualifying standard this weekend.

    After provisionally qualifying in the 5,000m in her season debut at the Meyo Invitational, sophomore Kristin Sutherland will move down to the 3,000m this week along with junior Chantelle Groenewoud, who also will run the mile along with Bizzarri. Freshman Maddie Aufmann is again slated to run the 800m after winning the event two weeks ago at the Illinois Intercollegiate.

    Senior Aja Evans continues to work toward an automatic qualifying mark in the shot put after achieving a provisional qualifying mark in the shot put at the last two meets. The Chicago, Ill., native also will run the 60m dash. Other field event competitors to keep an eye on are freshman Shinelle Proctor and sophomore Kendall McCaugherty in the high jump, senior Alecia Beckford-Stewart, sophomore Jayla McArthur, and freshmen Kawanna Brooks and Kayla Smith in the long jump and sophomore Alexandria Smith in the triple jump.

    Full results and a recap of the meet can be found on fightingillini.com after the meet. Next week, the Illini travel to Charleston, Ill., for the EIU Friday Night Special on Feb. 19.

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