Freshman Morolake Akinosun and the Fighting Illini will began NCAA competition this weekend in Austin, Texas.
May 22, 2013
2013 NCAA West Preliminary Round of Championships
Thursday, May 23- Saturday, May 25
Mike A. Myers Stadium // Austin, Texas
The Illinois women's track and field team will head to Austin, Texas for the NCAA West Preliminary Round of Championship at the University of Texas' Mike A. Myers Stadium from May 23-25. The Illini boast 18 qualifiers in 13 events, including the 4x400m relay team. The East NCAA Preliminary Rounds will be held at North Carolina A&T University at the same time.
Each preliminary round site will host the top 48 declared athletes -- or 24 relay teams -- in each event, with the exception of the heptathlon. The preliminary round will serve as the first two rounds of competition for the NCAA championships, narrowing the field in each event to 12 from each region. The top 12 performers from each preliminary round site will then advance to compete at the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Ore., from June 5-8.
The Illini are ranked in the top-25 in nine different events, as the 4x400m relay squad of senior Marissa Golliday, freshman Morolake Akinosun, sophomore Ashley Spencer and sophomore Asia Thomas ranks the highest at No. 6 while Spencer (400m) and junior Samantha Murphy (800m) are also ranked No. 6 in their respective events. Morolake boasts the No. 7 time in the 100m and No. 13 in the 200m while junior Katie Porada is seeded No. 14 in the 1,500m. Junior Jesica Ejesieme ranks No. 12 in the 400m hurdles while Big Ten 10,000m point scorer Courtney Yaeger is listed at No. 17 in the event. Three-time defending Big Ten pole vault champion Stephanie Richartzcomes into the meet at No. 7 while two other vaulters will also compete this weekend. A full travel roster and schedule of Illini entries can be found on the PDF above.
Live results and video from www.texassports.com will be available during all three days and linked HERE. A full recap and results can be found on fightingillini.com after each day.
Big Ten Outdoor Championships Recap
Five Big Ten titles highlighted the Big Ten Championships as the Fighting Illini women's track and field team finished second overall with 120 points. Sopohmore Ashley Spencer defended her 200m and 400m crown, junior Samantha Murphy won the 800m while the 4x400m relay defended their outdoor title. Junior Stephanie Richartzalso defended her pole vault title as she won her third straight conference crown a few weeks ago.
Illini Athletes to Watch:
• Ashley Spencer, 400m & 4x400m Relay (So., Indianapolis, Ind.)
Spencer begins her quest to defend her 400m outdoor title which she won last season as a freshman. The sophomore is a 12-time Big Ten Champion, defending the 200m, 400m and 4x400m relay crowns indoors and outdoors. For her efforts at both conference meets, she was named Big Ten Indoor/Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year and Track Athlete of the Championships. It was the first time an Ilini has been named outdoor track athlete of the year since 2010 and the seventh Illini to win the award. She notched the outdoor athlete of the championship for the second straight year and becomes just the second Illini to earn the award in back-to-back years. The last time an Orange and Blue athlete won the award in consecutive years was head coach Tonja Buford-Bailey in 1992-1993. The two-time All-American will also compete in the two-time Big Ten 4x400m relay champion squad which is seeded sixth coming into this weekend.
400m -Personal-Best: 50.50 (6/17/12) // Season-Best: 52:27 (5/12/13)
• Morolake Akinosun, 100m, 200m & 4x400m Relay (Fr., Aurora, Ill.)
Akinosun will be one of the busiest competitors at the meet, as she is scheduled to compete in three events: 100m, 200m, and 4x400m relay. The junior was the runner-up in the 100m and eighth in the 200m at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships. She is seeded seventh in the 100m with her personal-best mark of 11.29 and 13th in 200m (23.26). Indoors, Akinosun won the 60m dash and was a part of the school record winning 4x400m relay team. For her efforts, she was named Big Ten Indoor Freshman of the Year and qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships in both the 60m and 200m.
100m - Personal-Best: 11.29 (3/30/13)
200m -Personal-Best: 23.26 (4/6/13)
• Jesica Ejesieme, 100m Hurdles & 400m Hurdles (Jr., Rowlett, Texas)
Griffith is ranked 12th in the 400m hurdles following her season-best time of 58.40 at the Drake Relays. The junior also scored six team points for the Illini in the event a few weeks ago as she finished third in the event at the Big Ten Championships. Ejesieme will also compete in the 100m hurdles. Last year, she punched her ticket to the NCAA Championships where she earned second-team All-America honors after finishing 10th in the event.
100m H - Personal-Best: 13.29 (5/12/12) // Season-Best: 13.58 (3/23/13)
400m H -Personal-Best: 57.30 (5/13/12) // Season-Best: 58.49 (4/27/13)
• Samantha Murphy, 800m (Jr., Perth, Ontario)
Murphy looks to advance to the NCAA Outdoor Championships for the first time in her career. The junior is having an outstanding season, as she most recently won the 800m Big Ten title in a personal-best time of 2:05.04 which ranks second fastest in Illinois history. She also ran the third leg of the Big Ten champion 4x400m relay squad. Indoors she earned her first All-America honor after setting the school record while finishing fourth in the 800m (2:03.95) at the NCAA Championships. The junior also holds the school record in the 600m which she set during the prelims of the event at the Big Ten Championships (1:28.87).
800m - Personal-Best: 2:05.04 (5/12/13)
• 4x400m Relay Marissa Golliday, Morolake Akinosun, Ash. Spencer, Asia Thomas)
The Illini timed a season-best 3:31.63 at the Texas Relays, which ranks sixth in the region. The time ranks third fastest in UI history. The quartet is coming off winning the Big Ten 4x400m relay title for the second consecutive year. The squad also had success at the Drake Relays where they won the event to help the Illini win the first annual Hy-Vee Cup. Last season, the Orange and Blue relay advanced to the NCAA semifinal and finished third in their heat but were later disqualified because of a lane violation.
4x400m - Season-Best: 3:31.63 (3/30/13)
• Courtney Yaeger, 10,000m (Sr., Wheeling, W.V.)
Yaeger, who garnered All-Big Ten honors for the first time following her third place finish at the conference meet, is seeded 17th in the 10,000m with her school record time of 34:17.37. Earlier in the outdoor season, the senior finished fourth in the 5,000m at the Drake Relays, turning in the fifth best time in the Illinois school record books (16:26.24). During indoors, Yaeger set a career-best 5,000m time at the Big Ten Championships, running a time of 16:40.09 which ranks fifth fastest in school history.
10,000m -Personal-Best: 34:17.37 (5/10/13)
• Breeana Coleman, 100m H (Jr., Olathe, Kan.)
Coleman looks to compete at the NCAA Outdoor Championships for the second straight year. The junior qualified in the 100m hurdles last year and advanced to the semifinals. Coleman finished fifth in the event a few weeks at the Big Ten Championships and also made the finals of the 100m. The junior's season-best time of 13.42 was set at the Sun Angel Classic and is ranked No. 22.
100m H - Personal-Best: 13.22 (5/13/12) // Season-Best: 13.42 (4/6/13)
• Katie Porada, 1,500m & 5,000m (Jr., Clarendon Hills, Ill.)
Porada will run the 1,500m and 5,000m this weekend at the NCAA West Preliminary Round of Championships. The junior scored nine points for the Illini at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships, finishing third in the 1,500m and sixth in the 5,000m. Porada's 5K time of 16:17.53 ranks 31st in the region, fourth best in school history and was the first time she had event ran the event. The Clarendon Hills, Ill., native's 1,500m time ranks 14th in the region coming into the weekend.
1,500m - Personal-Best: 4:20.44 (4/27/13)
5,000m -Personal-Best: 16:17.53 (5/12/13)
• Stephanie Richartz, Pole Vault (So., Island Lake, Ill.)
Richartz, who reset the school's indoor pole vault record in February, looks to advance to the NCAA Outdoor Championships for the first time. The sophomore set the indoor school record at the Big Ten Championships as she won the crown with a mark of 13-11 1/4 (4.25m). Richartz then defended her outdoor title a few weeks ago as she has now won three consecutive pole vault conference titles. Her season-best mark of 14-1 3/4 (4.31m) which was set at the Texas Relays, ranks seventh in the west prelims. Last year, Richartz placed 13th in the event at the NCAA West Preliminary Round of Championships, just missing a trip to the national meet.
Pole Vault -Personal-Best: 14-2 ¾; 4.34m (5/13/12) // Season-Best: 14-1 ¾; 4.31m (3/29/13)
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