Kayla Smith and the Illlni will split into two meets this weekend.
April 19, 2012
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois women's track and field team will send athletes to two meets this weekend, with the majority of the squad set to compete at Arkansas's John McDonnell Invitational on April 20-21. A group of distance runners are schedule to race at the Mt. SAC Relays in Walnut, Calif., today and Friday.
"This is the weekend we are looking to get some season-bests out of the athletes," head coach Tonja Buford-Bailey said. "We've been working really hard the last two weeks so they are all ready to run. I am especially looking forward to seeing Ashley Spenceropen in the 400m hurdles as well as seeing how our 4x100m relay team competes."
Seven Illini runners will race at the Mt. SAC Relays with five running Thursday and two on Friday. A trio of runners will kick of the action today at 4:30 p.m. CT in the 1,500m with sophomore Katie Porada leading freshmen Alyssa Schneider and Colette Falsey. Junior's Madeline Aufmann and Amber Stack will compete in the 3,000m steeplechase around 7 p.m. CT., as Aufmann currently holds the fastest time of the Illini this season. Freshman Chloe Schmidt will be the lone Orange and Blue runner in the 800m, which is scheduled to begin at 4:25 p.m. CT. Junior Courtney Yaeger, coming off a school-record performance a few weeks ago, will run in the 5,000m late Friday night.
The events at the John McDonnell Invitational will begin Friday afternoon with the women's discus throw at 1 p.m. CT., and ending with the hammer throw at 5 p.m. CT. The field events will resume on Saturday morning with the women's javelin throw beginning at 12 p.m. CT. while the running events commence at 4 p.m. CT with the 400m relay.
All the sprinters will be set to compete on Saturday at the John McDonnell Invite with junior Kayla Smith leading the pack in the 100m and 200m, holding the 10th and ninth fastest time in the Big Ten this season, respectively. Three Illini will race in the 400m, highlighted by senior's Ashley Kelly and Ryisha Boyd, who currently rank second and third, respectively, in the Big Ten. In the middle distances, a pair of sophomore's will look to improve their times in the 800m as Amanda Duvendack owns the sixth-fastest Big Ten time and the top time on the team this season while Samantha Murphyranks eighth.
Sophomore Breeana Coleman (100m hurdles) and senior Latoya Griffith (400m hurdles) will look to drop time in their respective hurdle races as Coleman ranks second in the conference and Griffith tops all Big Ten competition. Freshman Ashley Spencer will also open up in the 400m hurdles, a race she originally came to Illinois to compete in, while being the anchor on the second fastest 4x100m relay in the Big Ten. The 4x400m relay is expected to feature Boyd, senior Jayla McArthur, Griffith and freshman Asia Thomas.
Junior Kawanna Brooks will be the only Illini in the long jump, run the 100m, 200m and 100m hurdles and compete in the high jump with junior Marissa Golliday. Sophomore's Stephanie Richartz and Elizabeth Eitzen look to improve their pole vault marks while freshman Kristen Wilson will compete in the shot put. Freshman Mariah Smith will throw the discus, a week after setting a new personal-best in the event. Junior Kristin Morrisonwill be the only Orange and Blue athlete competing in the javelin on Saturday.
Live stats from the Mt. SAC Relays and John McDonnell Invitational along with full results and a recap following the completion of the meets can be found on fightingillini.com. Next weekend, the team will split again as most of the squad will compete at Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa while a small group will run at the Penn Relays in Philadelphia, April 26-28.