Sophomore Ashley Spencer and the Illini will open their outdoor season this Saturday at the Texas State Elite Meet.
March 20, 2013
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- After finishing up the indoor season with the first Big Ten title since the 1996 season and qualifying eight for the 2013 NCAA Indoor Championships, the Fighting Illini women's track and field team transitions into the outdoor season this weekend. The Illini will compete at the Texas State Elite meet on Saturday, March 23. The event will take place at the Texas State track and field complex with field events beginning at 9 am and running events at 1 pm.
"We are so excited about the outdoor season," head coach Tonja Buford-Bailey said. "We're still training indoors and it will probably take us a few weeks of competing to get into sync but we know it's a long season and we're targeting May and June. These first two meets will show us what we need to work on in some of the speciality events that were not contested indoors, such as the 400m H, 4x100m, javelin, steeplechase and the discus. It should be fun as outdoor track season always is."
Two weeks after defending her three Big Ten titles, Spencer will begin the outdoor season running the 100m, 400m hurdles and 4x100m relay. This marks the first time Spencer has competed in the hurdles race as an Illini, one in which she ran in high school. Joining her in the 400m hurdles will be junior Jesica Ejesieme who qualified for the NCAA Championships last season. Ejesieme will also compete in the 100m hurdles with two-time NCAA qualifier Breeana Coleman and freshman Mobolaji Adeokun.
Joining Spencer in the 100m is defending Big Ten indoor champion Morolake Akinosun, as well as Coleman. Akinosun will also improve her 200m time along with senior Lauren Hollingsworth and Adeokun. Three Illini will run the 400m in their outdoor opener, as sophomore Asia Thomas will lead the group as well as Hollingsworth and senior Marissa Golliday. A pair of junior's are scheduled to compete in the 800m with Amanda Duvendack and Ahlivia Spencer while the two are scheduled to compete in the 4x400m relay. Coleman, Akinosun, Adeokun and Spencer are the four running the 4x100m relay.
In the field events, defending Big Ten pole vault champion Stephanie Richartz leads the vault crew of senior Elizabeth Eitzen and freshman Jennifer DeBellis while sophomore Vicky Pavlou is scheduled to compete in the triple jump. Senior Kristin Morrison looks to improve her javelin and long jump marks while Golliday will compete in the high jump.
The Illini will split next weekend as some will travel to Austin, Texas to compete in the Texas Relays from March 28-30 while others will run at the Stanford Invitational in Palo Alto, Calif.