Freshman Ashley Spncer, who will run the 400m and anchor the 4x400m relay, is one of 16 Illini entries at the NCAA West Preliminary Round.
May 23, 2012
2012 NCAA West Preliminary Round of Championship
Thursday, May 24 - Saturday, May 26
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 24-26. The Illini boast 16 qualified athletes in 10 events, including the 4x400m realy team. Two seasons ago, the NCAA switched post-season formats for the outdoor track championships going from four regional sites to East and West preliminary round sites. The East NCAA Preliminary Rounds will be held at the same time in Jacksonville, Fla.
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 2012 NCAA Outdoor Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, from June 6-9.
The Illini are ranked in the top-25 in nine different events, led by freshman Ashley Spencer in the 400m at No. 1. The 4x400m relay is also in the top-10 at No. 4 in the event along with five other Illini who rank in the 10 best performers in their event, including sophomore Stephanie Richartz (pole vault) at No. 6, senior Latoya Griffith (400m hurdles) at No. 7, sophomore Breeana Colman (100m hurdles) at No. 8, sophomore Jesica Ejesieme (400m hurdles) at No. 9 and senior Ashley Kelly (400m) at No. 10. Sophomore Katie Porada is listed at No. 20 in the 1,500m while junior Courtney Yaeger is seeded No. 22 in the 10,000m. Juniors Madeline Aufmann. Amber Stack and Kawanna Brooks are also among the top-25 competitors, listed at No. 13 and No. 18 in the 3,000m steeplechase and No. 23 in the long jump, respectively. A full travel roster and schedule of Illini entries can be found in the PDF above.
Live results and video from www.texassports.com will be available during all three days and linked on www.fightingillini.com. 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 final day of competition at the outdoor conference meet for the Illinois women's track and field team, as the squad tied for second overall with 110 points, the highest since 2007. Freshman Ashley Spencer won the 200m and 400m while senior Latoya Griffith was the 400m hurdles champion and sophomore Stephanie Richartz took the pole vault crown. Spencer was also a part of the winning 4x400m relay team of Ryisha Boyd, Ashley Kelly, Latoya Grifith which took the Big Ten title in 3:31.77, the second quickest ever in the school records books.
Illini Athletes to Watch:
Ashley Spencer, 400m & 4x400m Relay (Fr., Indianapolis, Ind.)
Spencer, an All-American in the 200m, will look to advance to the NCAA Outdoor Championships for the first time in her career. The freshman is already a six-time Big Ten Champion, winning the 200m, 400m and 4x400m relay during both indoor and outdoor seasons. For her efforts at both conference meets, she was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year during indoors and Big Ten Track Athlete of the Championships and Freshman of the Year. She is the first Illini to win the title of Big Ten Outdoor Athlete of the Championships since 2005 and is the first Illini runner to earn Outdoor Freshman of the Year honors in 11 years. Spencer holds five school records and has posted the fastest 400m time in the nation, set at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships two weeks ago. The freshman will compete in the 400m and as a part of the Big Ten Champion 4x400m relay team, which is seeded fourth in the prelims.
400m - Personal-Best: 51.02 (5/13/12)
Latoya Griffith, 400m Hurdles & 4x400m Relay (Sr., St. Andrews, Barbados)
Griffith is ranked seventh in the 400m hurdles following her career-best time of 57.12 at the Big Ten Championships, where she won her first conference title. The senior has won six of her seven races this season, including winning the event title at the Penn Relays. She also is slated to run a leg on the 4x400m relay. In 2010, she advanced to the NCAA Championships in the event and was part of the 4x400m relay.
400m Hurdles - Personal-Best: 57.12 (5/13/12)
Ashley Kelly, 400m & 4x400m Relay (Sr., Tortola, British Virgin Islands)
Last season, Kelly earned her first career first-team All-America honors after competing in the 400m final and placing eighth. The senior placed fourth in both the 200m and 400m at the 2012 Big Ten Outdoor Championships. She is seeded 10th in 400m with a season-best time of 52.77, with the qualifying time coming from the conference meet.
400m - Personal-Best: 52.71 (7/8/11) // Season-Best: 52.77 (5/13/12)
Breeana Coleman, 100m Hurdles (So., Olathe, Kan.)
Coleman has made an immediate impact on the Illini squad, scoring points for the Orange and Blue during both the indoor and outdoor conference meets. The Olathe, Kan., native earned second-team All-Big Ten honors after finishing runner-up in the 60m hurdles at the Big Ten Indoor Championships and placed second in the 100m hurdles at the outdoor conference meet with a career-best time of 13.22. Coleman's 100m time (13.22) is seeded eighth heading into the weekend and is the second-fastest in the conference, behind 10-time Big Ten Champion Christina Manning from Ohio State.
100m Hurdles - Personal-Best: 13.22 (5/13/12)
4x400m Relay (Ryisha Boyd, Ashley Kelly, Latoya Griffith, Ashley Spencer)
The Illini timed a season-best 3:31.77 at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships, which ranks fourth in the region. The quartet of Boyd, Kelly, Griffith and Spencer's time at the conference meet won the Big Ten title and ranks second fastest in the school record books. The four also performed well at the Penn Relays, finishing fifth among some of the best relays teams in the country.
4x400m - Season-Best: 3:31.77 (5/13/12)
Madeline Aufmann, 3,000m Steeplechase (Jr., Cary, Ill.)
Aufmann, who notched her best conference finish in the 3,000m steeplechase after finishing fifth, is seeded 15th in the event with her personal-best time of 10:17.57, which ranks third in school history. Aufmann improved her personal-best time by 11 seconds.
3,000m SC - Personal-Best: 10:17.57 (5/12/12)
Stephanie Richartz, Pole Vault (So., Island Lake, Ill.)
Richartz, who broke the school's outdoor pole vault record twice during the campaign, looks to improve upon her finish last year. The sophomore qualified for nationals, after finishing 14th at the NCAA West Prelims. At the Big Ten Outdoor Championships, Richartz won her first conference crown, with a school-record mark of 14-2 3/4 (4.34m), which currently ranks sixth in the region heading into the meet.
Pole Vault - Personal-Best: 14-2 ¾; 4.34m (5/13/12)
Amber Stack, 3,000m Steeplechase (Jr., Wheeling, Ill.)
Stack had a breakout meet at the Big Ten Championships, placing seventh in the 3,000m steeplechase. Her career-best time of 10:19.07 clinched her second consecutive bid to the NCAA West Preliminary Round of Championship and is ranked 18th in the region along with being the fourth-fastest time in school history.
3,000m SC - Personal-Best: 10:19.07 (5/12/12)
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