Senior Angela Bizzarri debuts in the 1,500m on Saturday night at the Sun Angel Classic.
April 8, 2010
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois women's track and field team gears up for a pair of meets this weekend, as four distance runners are slated to run at Arizona State's Sun Angel Classic and the majority of the squad scheduled to compete at Tennessee's SeaRay Relays. The Illini competing at the Joe Selleh Track at Sun Angel Stadium in Tempe, Ariz., will run Saturday night while the athletes at the Tom Black Track at LaPorte Stadium Knoxville, Tenn., are set for competition from April 9-10.
Three-time national champion and AAU Sullivan Award finalist Angela Bizzarri makes her outdoor debut in the 1,500m at the 31st Sun Angel Classic while senior Elizabeth Boyle, junior Chantelle Groenewoud and sophomore Kristin Sutherland are set to debut in the 5,000m. Bizzarri will run in the premiere section at 8 p.m. MST (10 p.m. CST) followed by the three Illini in the 5,000m at 8:15 p.m. MST (10:15 p.m. CST) on Saturday.
"Our distance crew will face solid competition in Arizona," head coach Tonja Buford-Bailey said. "Angela opened with the 1,500m last year with a really good race against professional athletes, so we are hoping for the same thing this year. She is looking to compete in a challenging race with higher-level athletes and push herself while working on her speed."
Reigning Big Ten Field Athlete of the Week Aja Evans looks to improve on her outstanding opener in the shot put at the SeaRay Relays, as her outdoor debut mark of 55-5 (16.89m) ranks third in the nation.
"Aja is focused on continuing to get better each week," Buford-Bailey said. "It doesn't do us a lot of good for someone to have a great week the first meet out and then everything goes down hill. After we left Purdue, we felt better then we did after any meet, so we know we are right on track with her progression."
The Illini sprint crew also eyes improvement and faster times at the SeaRay Relays this weekend. Junior Tamika Robinson, who won the 100m and 100m hurdles and anchored the victorious 4x100m relay at last week's Mike Poehlein Invitational, will run all three events again and expects repeat success. Illinois' other two event winners from a week ago are also back in action, with sophomore Latoya Griffith in the 400m hurdles and 4x400m relay and freshman Kayla Smith in 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay.
All four Illini who finished in the top-five of the 400m at Purdue vie for the top spot this week in senior Paris Streets, junior Melissa Bates, sophomore Ryisha Boyd and freshman Marissa Golliday. Other Illini to watch are senior Alecia Beckford-Stewart in the heptathlon, sophomore Kendall McCaugherty in the high jump and freshman Kawanna Brooks in the long and triple jump.
"Everybody left the first meet feeling like it was one of their better meets and that they were right on target," Buford-Bailey said. "We are always preparing to be best by the end of the season for the championships."
Live results for the SeaRay Relays can be found at fightingillini.com while a full recap and results will be posted online following the completion of both meets. Next week, the Illini again split up for a pair of meets on Saturday, April 17, with part of the team heading to the Dave Rankin Invitational in West Lafayette, Ind., and others competing at the LSU Alumni Gold meet in Baton Rouge, La.