The Illini will split up for a pair of meets to open the outdoor season this weekend at the Stanford Invitational and the SEC/Big Ten Challenge.
March 24, 2011
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois women's track and field team will split up for a pair of meets to open the outdoor season this weekend, as a group of distance runners will compete at the Stanford Invitational on Friday, March 25, and the majority of the squad will take part in the SEC/Big Ten Challenge on Saturday, March 26. Six athletes are slated to run distance events on Friday night at Stanford's Cobb Track in Palo Alto, Calif., while the rest of the squad will compete Saturday in Starkville, Miss., at Mississippi State's newly renovated Carl Maddox Track.
"This is the opening weekend for us, so it will give us a chance to see where we are at heading into the outdoor season," head coach Tonja Buford-Bailey said. "It will be a fun meet to have four Big Ten and SEC schools compete against each other and showcase their strengths. The Stanford Invitational is one of the top meets for distance racing, so it will be a good chance for our distance crew to put up some marks out there."
The Stanford Invite is well known for consistently playing host to some of the fastest distance times in the nation and will be covered by Flotrack this weekend. The Illini competing in California include freshman Katie Porada and sophomore Stephanie Morgan in the 1,500m, senior Chantelle Groenewoud and sophomore Amber Stack in the 3,000m steeplechase, sophomore Courtney Yaeger in the 5,000m and senior Elizabeth Boyle in the 10,000m.
Illinois and fellow Big Ten squads, Indiana, Ohio State and Purdue, will take on Auburn, Georgia, Mississippi and host Mississippi State at the inaugural SEC/Big Ten Challenge on Saturday. It will be a scored meet using a 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 scoring format, and scoring positions can come from any heat or section of an event. Points will be awarded to the conference's top-four finishers in each event and pooled together to determine a conference winner of the challenge's championship.
Mississippi State coach Al Schmidt came up with the meet concept in hopes of bringing an exciting meet to MSU that kept alive the true nature of team competition. The conference showdown will kick off at 9 a.m. on Saturday morning with the hammer throw followed by the start of the running events at 1 p.m. The Orange and Blue are entered in a variety of events and are looking to start off the season with a strong showing in the 4x100m relay, which qualified for nationals last season.
Full results and a recap can be found on fightingillini.com after the completion of the meets. Next weekend, the Illini will head to Baton Rouge, La., for the LSU Invitational on Saturday, April 2.