Sophomore Ashley Spencer and seven Illini look for a NCAA title this weekend at the Randal Tyson Track Center.
March 7, 2013
NCAA Indoor Championships
Friday, March 8 - Saturday, March 9
Randal Tyson Track Center // Fayetteville, Ark.
The University of Illinois women's track and field team qualified athletes in eight different events to compete in this weekend's NCAA Indoor Championships, as the official declaration list was announced Monday night. Four Illini will compete at the indoor championships for the first time in their careers as well as Illinois school record holder Ashley Spencer running in the 400m and the 4x400m relay team with sophomore Asia Thomas, freshman Morolake Akinosun, senior Marissa Golliday. Junior Samantha Murphy and Golliday will also compete for the first time, with Murphy running the 800m and Golliday also qualifying in the pentathlon. Akinosun will also run the 60m and 200m while junior's Breeana Coleman and Stephanie Richartz will also compete for the second straight year, with Coleman running in the 60m hurdles and Richartz in the pole vault.
Sophomore Ashley Spencer, a nine-time Big Ten Champion, qualified in the 400m after resetting the school record at the Spire Invitational with a time of 52.07. Spencer is undefeated in the event this season and takes the third seed in the 400m. She is the first Illini 400m runner to qualify since Yvonne Harrison accomplished the feat in 1998. The prelims of the 400m are scheduled for 6:25 p.m CT on Friday, March 8, with the top-eight runners advancing to the finals on Saturday night at 6:40 p.m. CT.
Freshman Morolake Akinosun qualified for the NCAA Championships in two individual events, the 60m, 200m. Akinosun won her first Big Ten title in the 60m with a time of 7.32 which is the 11th fastest in the nation and second fastest in Illinois history. The Aurora, Ill., native will be the first Illini runner to qualify in the event since 2003 when Chequetta Bearfield accomplished the feat. Akinosun will also compete in the 200m as she finished runner-up at the conference meet with a 23.47. She is one of just two freshman in the event.
Breeana Coleman will look to become a NCAA champion as the Illini qualified in the 60m hurdles for the second straight year, with a time of 8.20. The junior set the season-best time at the Big Ten Championships where she earned her first conference title in the event. Coleman will run the prelims in the event at 6:00 p.m. CT with the finals on Saturday at 6:20 p.m. CT.
Junior Samantha Murphy will compete in the NCAA championships for the first time in her career. Murphy broke the school record in the 800m with a time of 2:04.17 which ranks third fastest in the nation coming into the national meet. She is the first Illini runner to qualify in the 800m since Carlene Robinson in 2005.
In the field events, Richartz will travel to the national meet for the second consecutive year. She will compete in the event on Saturday, March 9 at 5:30 p.m. CT. The Island Lake, Ill., native won the Big Ten indoor title and broke the school record with a mark of 13-11 1/4 (4.25m).
Golliday will look for a great performance at the national meet in the pentathlon. She finished runner-up at the Big Ten meet in the combined events with the second best score in school history, totalling 4,067.
The 4x400 meter relay team of Thomas, Akinosun, Golliday and Spencer is the fourth squad in the past 10 seasons to qualify for nationals as the team most recently sent a relay squad last year. This year's squad holds the fastest mark in school history with a time of 3:33.30, set at the Big Ten Championships, a Big Ten, school and facility record. The squad will take the track at 8:05 p.m. CT on Saturday.
ESPN3 will stream the meet live on March 8 from 5:30-9:30 p.m. CT and March 9 from 6 p.m.-8:30 p.m. CT. A tape delay of the championship will air Sunday, March 17 from 6 p.m.-8:00 p.m. CT on ESPNU.
Head Coach Tonja Buford-Bailey on Meet
"It's great that we have eight people going. It's wonderful that we have that many girls going to represent Illinois. Most of the girls going are younger. I try to make it where it isn't pressure, but an expectation to make it to NCAAs. They want to be contributors for the teammates. This will be good momentum going into outdoors. Our main focus is maintaining what we have right now and keep the train rolling."
Illini Athletes at Nationals:
Morolake Akinosun (Fr., Aurora, Ill.) - 60m, 200m, 4x400m
Became a two-time Big Ten Champion, winning the 60m and was part of the 4x400m relay squad ... Won the 60m Big Ten title with a time of 7.32 which ranks as the 11th fastest time in the nation and fourth in school history ... 200m time of 23.47 is 13th best in the NCAA and third in the Illinois record books ... The 4x400m relay squad set a Big Ten Conference, school and facility record with a time of 3:33.30 which is the fourth fastest in the country.
Breeana Coleman (Fr., Olathe, Kan.) - 60m Hurdles
Won her first Big Ten title in the 60m hurdles with a time of 8.20 to tie her season best in the event ... The 60m hurlde time is the 15th fastest in the nation ... Didn't finish lower than third in the 60m hurdles during the indoor season.
Marissa Golliday (Sr., Oak Lawn, Ill.) - 4x400m, Pentathlon)
The 4x400m relay squad set a Big Ten Conference, school and facility record with a time of 3:33.30 which is the fourth fastest in the country ... Also finished runner-up in the pentathlon, scoring the second best score in school history (4,067) ... Pentathlon score is the 12th best in the country.
Samantha Murphy (Jr., Perth, Ontario) - 800m
Scored 14 points for the Orange and Blue at the Big Ten Championships ... Finished second in the 800m and third in the 600m ... Set the school record in the 600m during the prelims at the conference meet with a time of 1:28.87 ... Set the school record in the 800m at the Spire Invite with a time of 2:04.17 which ranks third fastest in the nation.
Stephanie Richartz (Jr., Island Lake, Ill.) - Pole Vault
Won her first Big Ten indoor pole vault title with a school record mark of 13-11 1/4 (4.25m) ... Mark is the eight best in the nation ... Finished first or second in every meet this season.
Ashley Spencer (So., Indianapolis, Ind.) - 400m, 4x400m
Defended her three Big Ten titles, winning the 200m, 400m and was part of the 4x400m relay squad ... Spencer won the 400m with a new Big Ten meet record time of 52.17, however she reset school record earlier in the season at the Spire Invite with a time of 52.07 ... School record is the third fastest in the nation ... The 4x400m relay squad set a Big Ten Conference, school and facility record with a time of 3:33.30 which is the fourth fastest in the country.
Asia Thomas (So., Cape Girardeau, Mo.) - 4x400m
The 4x400m relay squad set a Big Ten Conference, school and facility record with a time of 3:33.30 which is the fourth fastest in the country ... Individually, finished a career-best third place in the 400m at the Big Ten Championships with a personal-best time of 54.04 which is fifth best in school history.
Full set of notes can be found in the above PDF.