Women's Cross Country, Track & Field
No. 18 Illini Ready for Big Ten Championships

Nine-time Big Ten champion Ashley Spencer and the Fighting Illini will seek an outdoor title this weekend at Ohio State.
Nine-time Big Ten champion Ashley Spencer and the Fighting Illini will seek an outdoor title this weekend at Ohio State.

May 8, 2013

Big Ten Outdoor NotesGet Acrobat Reader | Championship Central | Live Results

2013 Big Ten Outdoor Track & Field Championships
Friday, May 10-Sunday, May 12
Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium // Columbus, Ohio
Television: BTN tape delay - Sunday, May 19 at Noon CT

The Meet
The Illinois women's track and field team will look for a conference title this weekend, as the squad travels to Columbus, Ohio for the Big Ten Outdoor Championships from Friday, May 10 through Sunday, May 12 at Ohio State's Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. Seniors Marissa Golliday and Kristin Morrison will kick off competition for the Orange and Blue on Friday, as they will compete in the heptathlon beginning at 12:15 p.m. Senior Courtney Yaeger and junior Meghan Frigo will run in the 10,000m on the first day of the championships. The heptathlon resumes on Saturday at 10:15 a.m., followed by trials of the running events and finals in the long jump, javelin and 3,000m steeplechase, which will wrap up the second day of competition. Sunday finals will begin at 11 a.m. with the discus, while the running finals are scheduled to begin at 12:45 p.m. with the 4x100m relay and end at 3:33 p.m. with the 4x400m relay. A full Big Ten roster and schedule of Illini entries can be found on page 4.

Heading into the championships, Illinois is ranked the best in the conference in six different events. Freshman Morolake Akinosun (100m), junior Stephanie Richartz (Pole Vault) while sophomore Ashley Spencer holds the best times in the 200m and 400m hurdles. The Illini 4x100 and 4x400m relay also rank number one in the conference.

Live updates from the meet will be posted to the @IlliniTrackXC Twitter account while a full recap and results can be found on fightingillini.com following the completion of each day. The 2013 Big Ten Outdoor Track and Field Championships also will be televised tape-delayed by the Big Ten Network on Sunday, May 19 at Noon CT.

Illinois History at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships
The Orange and Blue have won the most individual/relay event titles of any team in the Big Ten, with a total of 112 first-place finishes since the women's championships started in 1982. The Illini have earned 56 on the track, 29 in field events and 27 from relays. Wisconsin ranks second with 92 titles. Illinois has also won a total of six outdoor team titles, with the most recent coming in 2007. The Illini finished tied for second at last year's outdoor conference championship.

The Illini were on top the podium in five different events at the 2012 Big Ten Outdoor Championships and racked up 110 points to tie for second. It was the highest finish since the 2007 season. Ashley Spencer won the 200m, 400m and also ran the anchor leg in the winning 4x400m relay. Latoya Griffith took the 400m hurdles crown while Stephanie Richartz won the pole vault title, breaking the school record in the event.

Head Coach Tonja Buford-Bailey on Outdoor Championships
"We are really excited about the outdoor conference meet. Coming off of the indoor title, it's always challenging to keep everyone focused and to keep the momentum going. The ladies who are competing this weekend know what it's like now to be the team with high expectations and I believe they have done a great job so far this outdoor season. We've had some really good marks so far but they know that it all comes down to this weekend."

Big Ten Indoor Championship Review
The Illini won the 2012 Big Ten Indoor Championships title for the first time since the 1996 season. The squad crowned six total Big Ten champion and recorded 115 team points between the two day conference championship. Sophomore Ashley Spencer won the 200m/400m, junior Breeana Coleman took the 60m hurdles title, freshman Morolake Akinosun placed first in the 60m while the 4x400m relay was also the best in the Big Ten. Spencer was named Big Ten Track Athlete of the Year/Championships while Akionsun earned Freshman of the Year. Coach Tonja Buford-Bailey was named Coach of the Year for the team's effort.

Illini Athletes to Watch

Ashley Spencer, Sprints (So., Indianapolis, Ind.)
Spencer is one of the top Illini returners and expects to play a key role for the Illini in four events. She will look to defend her individual title in the 200m and 400m and will be a part in the 4x100m and 4x400m. Last season she won the 200m, 400m and was part of the 4x400 champions. For her efforts she was named Big Ten Outdoor Track Athlete of the Championships and Freshman of the Year. During the indoor season, Spencer won the 200m, 400m and 4x400m relay and was named Big Ten Track Athlete of the Year/of the Championships.

200m - Personal-Best: 22.99 (5/13/12) // Season-Best: 23.04 (4/6/13)
400m - Personal-Best: 50.50 (6/17/12)

Morolake Akinosun, Springs (Fr., Aurora, Ill.)
Akinosun has made an immediate impact on the Illini team as she will compete in two individual events and two relays. The freshman won the 60m and was part of the 4x400m relay title at the indoor conference meet in February. For her efforts, she was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year. During the outdoor season, she's clocked the second fastest 100m time in school history at the Texas Relays (11.29) and the fifth fastest 200m time of 23.26 at the Sun Angel Classic.

100m- Season-Best: 11.29 (3/31/13)
200m- Season-Best: 23.26 (4/6/13)

• 4x100m Relay (Jesica Ejesieme, Lauren Hollingsworth, Morolake Akinosun, Ashley Spencer)
The Illini seek their first title in the event since 2007 this weekend as they currently hold the fastest time in the Big Ten. The time of 44.28 was set a few weeks ago at the Drake Relays as the quartet won the crown. The Illini have finished runner-up in the event for the past three years as Ohio State nipped them at the line.

4x100m - Season-Best: 44.28 (4/27/13)

• 4x400m Relay (Lauren Hollingsworth, Morolake Akinosun, Ahlivia Spencer, Ashley Spencer)
An event they have traditionally been very successful in, the Illini are eyeing to defend their Big Ten title after winning the crown last season. The Orange and Blue timed a season best and third best time in school history at the Texas Relays, clocking a time of 3:31.63. The time leads the conference and also ranks sixth fastest in the nation. The squad also won the Drake Relays title in the event.

4x400m - Season-Best: 3:31.63 (3/30/13)

Stephanie Richartz, Pole Vault (So., Island Lake, Ill.)
Richartz looks to defend her Big Ten title as she won the crown last year with a mark of 14-2 3/4 (4.34m) which was a new school record and was just off setting a new facility and Big Ten meet record. This year she came close to resetting the school record at the Texas Relays, finishing with a mark of 4.31m. The sophomore's mark ranks first in the conference and is tied for eighth highest in the country.

Pole Vault - Personal-Best: 14-2 3/4 (4.34m) (5/13/12) / Season-Best: 14-1 3/4 (4.21m) (3/29/13)

Samantha Murphy (Jr., Perth, Ohio)
After earning her first All-America honors this season indoors, Murphy looks to continue her postseason success at the Big Ten Championships. The junior set the third fastest 800m time in the conference and fourth best in school history (2:05.94) at the Sun Angel Classic. Earlier this year, she was part of the 4x800m relay that broke the school record at the Drake Relays. At the indoor conference meet, Murphy scored 14 points for the Illini finishing second in the 800m and third in the 600m.

800m - Personal-Best: 2:05.94 (4/6/13)

Marissa Golliday, Heptathlon (Sr., Oak Lawn, Ill.)
Golliday, who is ranked third in the Big Ten, tied the third best finish in Illinois history as she tallied 5,268 points at the Mt. SAC Relays. The senior set personal bests in the 100m hurdles (14.31) and tied her career best in the high jump (1.76m). Last year at the outdoor championship, Golliday finished fifth. During the indoor season, Golliday earned her first All-America honors after finishing seventh in the heptathlon. The senior broke the school record with 4,167 points at the NCAA Championships.

Heptathlon - Personal-Best: 5,268 points (4/18/13)

Courtney Yaeger, Distance (Sr., Wheeling, W.V.)
Yaeger, who currently holds the school record in the 10,000m (34:23.60) will seek to score valuable points for the Illini this weekend. This season, Yaeger almost reset the Illinois record in the 10,000m at the Stanford Invitational, when she finished with a time of 34:25.01. The senior also holds two other top-10 times in indoor/outdoor school history. A few weeks ago at the Drake Relays, Yaeger notched the fourth quickest 5,000m mark (16:26.24) while she ran the fifth best time in the same event at the indoor conference meet (16:40.09).

10,000m - Personal-Best: 34:23.60 (4/6/12) / Season-Best: 34:25.01 (3/29/13)

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