2014 Track and Field Season in Review
July 31, 2014
Final Indoor Performance List | Final Outdoor Performance List
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Fighting Illini women's track and field team ended the 2014 season with two individual Big Ten titles, two second-team All-America accolades and 21 additions to the program's all-time top-10 lists. Under first-year head coach Ron Garner, 10 Illini qualified for the NCAA West Preliminary Round of Championship, including two representatives in the discus for the first time in 10 years.
Illinois began the indoor season in January at the Illini Open, where the team collected nine individual event titles. The Orange and Blue returned to the UI Armory a week later and captured the Illini Classic team title by a 66-point margin after winning five events.
On Jan, 24, the Fighting Illini traveled to Lexington, Kentucky and recorded 10 top-10 finishes at the Rod McCravy Memorial before competing at the Notre Dame Meyo Invitational two weeks later. Illinois recorded six top-three finishes in South Bend, including Alyssa Schneider winning the 5,000m with the fifth-fastest time in school history.
The squad split in mid February, with the pole vault crew traveling to the Spire Invitational while the rest of the team competed at the Tyson Invitational. Illinois recorded nine top-10 finishes, including eight in the top-five, while the distance medley relay (Stephanie Morgan, Kymbriona Taylor, Chloe Schmidt, Alyssa Schneider) clocked the fifth-fastest time in school history in its season debut.
In the final meet of the regular season, Illinois returned to the UI Armory for the Orange & Blue Open where nine Illini won event titles. Kymbriona Taylor (60m), Samone Thompson (60m hurdles; long jump), Claire Kieger (200m), Asia Thomas (400m), Nicole Choquette (800m), Britten Petrey (3,000m), Kandie Bloch-Jones (high jump) and Jennifer DeBellis (pole vault) all placed first in their respective events, while the 4x400m relay team of Chloe Schmidt, Choquette, Kaleigh Evans and Michelle Frigo also took first.
Illinois traveled to Geneva, Ohio on the last weekend in February for the Big Ten Indoor Championships, where they finished ninth with 47 points. Two Illini were crowned conference champions, as Kandie Bloch-Jones won the high jump and Ahlivia Spencer clocked the second-fastest time in school history to win the 800m. The Illini also recorded two third-place finishes, as Amanda Duvendack placed third in the 800m while the distance medley relay team of Stephanie Morgan, Kymbriona Taylor, Chloe Schmidt and Alyssa Schneider clocked the third-fastest time in school history to land a spot on the podium.
Two weeks later, Bloch-Jones represented Illinois at the 2014 NCAA Indoor Championships. The freshman earned second-team All-America honors after placing 14th in the high jump.
The Orange and Blue started the outdoor season with a fourth-place finish at the Arizona State Invitational, where two Illini won event titles and nine others recorded top-five finishes. Britten Petrey placed first in the 3,000m steeplechase, while Jesica Ejesieme won both the 100m hurdles and 400m hurdles. The following weekend, the Orange and Blue traveled to the Tiger Track Classic, where two Illini won event titles, including Alyssa Schneider who clocked the fifth-fastest time in school history to win the 3,000m. The squad notched 17 top-10 finishes, while five Illini set new personal bests in their events.
On April 12, Illinois hosted its first outdoor meet since 2010. The team collected four event titles at the Illinois Twilight and scored 141 points to place second at the meet. Britten Petrey won the 3,000m steeplechase for the third straight week, while Jesica Ejesieme clocked the then-fastest time in the conference to win the 100m hurdles. Alyssa Schneider won the 5,000m and Kandie Bloch-Jones placed first in the high jump with the eighth-best mark in school history. One week later, the team traveled to Baton Rouge, Louisiana for the LSU Alumni Gold meet, where four Illini placed in the top-five in their respective events. In a loaded field that included three teams ranked in the top-10, Illinois notched 11 top-10 finishes in a total of 12 events.
At the prestigious Drake Relays, the Fighting Illini notched six top-10 finishes. Jesica Ejesieme placed fourth in both the 100m hurdles and the 400m hurdles, while the shuttle hurdle relay (Ejesieme, Kawanna Brooks, Mobolaji Adeokun, Samone Thompson) finished runner-up. Jazjuan Wallace-Sipp placed third in the discus with the third-best mark in school history. One week later at the final meet of the regular season, the Illini recorded 13 top-three finishes at the Billy Hayes Invitational, including event titles from Ejesieme (100m hurdles), Ahlivia Spencer (800m) and Wallace-Sipp (discus).
Illinois placed 11th at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships, with Kandie Bloch-Jones finishing runner-up in the high jump. Alyssa Schneider scored points for the Illini in the 10,000m after placing fifth with the second-fastest time in school history. Ejesieme also added points for the Orange and Blue with a fifth-place finish in the 100m hurdles and a sixth-place finish in the 400m hurdles.
Following the conference meet, the Illini earned 10 bids from nine individual athletes to the NCAA West Preliminary Round of Championship. After the three days of competition, Jesica Ejesieme qualified to compete in the 400m hurdles at the NCAA Championships in Euegene, Oregon. The senior earned second-team All-America honors at the national meet after placing 15th.