Senior Latoya Griffith is ranked first in the 400m hurdles heading into the Big Ten Championships.
May 9, 2012
2012 Big Ten Outdoor Track & Field Championships
Friday, May 11 - Sunday, May 13
McClimon Track & Field Complex // Madison, Wis.
The Illinois women's track and field team will look for a strong conference finish this weekend, as the squad travels to Madison, Wis., for the Big Ten Outdoor Championships from Friday, May 11 through Sunday, May 13 at Wisconsin's Dan McClimon Memorial Track. Juniors Kawanna Brooks, 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. Junior Courtney Yaeger 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 triple jump, 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 among the top three in the conference in six different events. Freshman Ashley Spencer (200m), senior Latoya Griffith (400m hurdles) and the 4x400m relay squad hold the top times while sophomore Jesica Ejesieme (100m hurdles) and the 4x100m team hold the second-fastest seed time along the Big Ten. Senior Ashley Kelly (400m) and sophomore Breeana Coleman (100m hurdles) are each ranked third in their respective events. In total, the Illini have 21 athletes listed among the top-10 Big Ten competitors in 12 events.
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 2012 Big Ten Outdoor Track and Field Championships also will be televised tape-delayed by the Big Ten Network on Sunday, May 20 at 11 a.m. 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 107 first-place finishes since the women's championships started in 1982. The Illini have earned 53 on the track, 28 in field events and 26 from relays. Wisconsin ranks second with 91 titles. Illinois has also won a total of six outdoor team titles, with the most recent coming in 2007. The Illini finished fourth last season after placing fifth at the previous outdoor championships.
The Illini reached the podium in six different events at the 2011 Big Ten Outdoor Championships and racked up 90 points to place fourth at the meet. Ashley Kelly placed second in a pair of events (200m, 400m) and as part of the 4x100m relay while former Illini athlete Kelly Washington (heptathlon) and Chantelle Groenewoud (3,000m Steeplchase) eached reached the podium with second-place showings in their respective events. Sophomore Stephanie Richartz also broke her own school record in the pole vault, and placed third in the event.
Head Coach Tonja Buford-Bailey on the Big Ten Outdoor Championships
"We're looking forward to running fast. Of course it is a process over a three day period. The goal is to see how many girls to place into the finals. We have so many people doing so many things right now, so I have big expectations for this weekend. I think we're ready, we had a great spring."
Big Ten Indoor Championships Recap
The Illini had three conference titles at the 2012 Big Ten Championships and finished in fourth place with 79 points, the highest finish since 2007. Freshman Ashley Spencer won the 200m and 400m and was part of the winning 4x400m relay squad of freshman Asia Thomas, and seniors Ashley Kelly and Latoya Griffith. The relay squad also set a Big Ten meet and school record while overall, the Orange and Blue also had 11 top-five finishes at the conference meet.
Illini Athletes to Watch:
Latoya Griffith, Hurdles (Sr., St. Andrews, Barbados)
Griffith is one of the top Illini returners and expects to play a key role for the Illini in two events, as she ranks first among the Big Ten in the 400m hurdles and 11th fastest in the nation. Griffith was sixth in the 400m hurdles last season and will enter the meet winning five of the six races this outdoor season. She is coming off a successful indoor campaign, where she was part of the Big Ten winning 4x400m relay squad which set a new Big Ten meet and school record in the process. The relay team advanced to the NCAA Championships for the first time since the 2009 season.
400m Hurdles - Personal-Best:57.42 (4/7/12)
Ashley Spencer, Sprints (Fr., Indianapolis, Ind.)
Spencer has made an immediate impact on the Illini team as she will compete in four events: 200m, 400m, 4x100m and 4x400m relay. The freshman, won three Big Ten titles at the indoor conference meet in February (200m, 400m, 4x400m) and broke the school record in the 200m and 400m earlier during the indoor season. For her efforts, she was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year. During the outdoor season, she timed a mark of 23.08 at the UCF Black and Gold Challenge, which sits at third fastest in school history, first in the Big Ten and 10th in the nation.
200m - Personal-Best:23:08 (3/17/12)
4x100m Relay (Jesica Ejesieme, Ashley Kelly, Kayla Smith, Ashley Spencer)
The Illini grabbed the runner-up spot in the event two years in a row at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships and are ranked second heading into this weekend's meet behind only Ohio State (43.88). The Orange and Blue foursome ranks in the top-25 in the nation.
4x100m - Season-Best: 44.29 (4/21/12)
4x400m Relay (Ryisha Boyd, Ashley Kelly, Latoya Griffith, Ashley Spencer)
An event they have traditionally been very successful in, the Illini are eyeing a Big Ten title after taking fourth last season at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships and third in 2010. The Orange and Blue timed a season-best 3:33.15 at the LSU Battle on the Bayou, tops the conference competition, ninth in the nation and third best in school history. The quartet of Boyd, Kelly, Griffith and Spencer is coming off a solid performance at the Drake Relays, where they advanced to the final and placed fifth overall.
4x400m - Season-Best: 3:33.15 (4/7/12)
Stephanie Richartz, Pole Vault (Fr., Island Lake, Ill.)
Richartz, who broke the school's indoor pole vault record in February and the outdoor record in April, with a personal best mark of 13-10 (4.22m) at the Tyson Invitational indoors and a mark of 13-5 3/4 (4.11m) at the Tom Botts Invitational oudoors. Her mark currently ranks fourth in the conference heading into the weekend. At last year's Big Ten Outdoor Championships, she placed third with a mark of 13-3 3/4 (4.05m).
Pole Vault - Personal-Best: 13-5 3/4; 4.11m (4/14/12)
Marissa Golliday, Heptathlon (Jr., Oak Lawn, Ill.)
Washington, who is ranked fifth in the Big Ten, tallied the sixth-best heptathlon in school history at the EIU Big Blue Classic, as she racked up 5,019 points in her first-ever heptathlon. The Oak Lawn, Ill., native took the top spot in three events, including the 200m (24.48) and 800m (2:18.62), and earned the runner-up spot in the shot put with a mark of 34-8 1/4 (10.57m). She also came in third in the high jump 5-3 3/4 (1.62m).
Heptathlon - Personal-Best: 5,019 points (3/31/12)
Courtney Yaeger, Distance (Sr., Wheeling, W.V.)
Boyle, who ranks fifth in the conference in the 10,000m, broke the school record in the event when she timed 34:23.25 at the Stanford Invitational. The Wheeling, W.V., also etched her name into the record books in the 5,000m, setting a time of 16:48.89, third fastest in school history.
10,000m - Personal-Best: 34:23.25 (4/20/11)
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