Women assess upcoming Big Ten meet’s lineup

By Regina Spachner

Women’s track and field has two things on its mind as it approaches the second meet of the indoor season: achieving personal records and finding the best lineup for the Big Ten Indoor Championships meet on Feb. 26.

“We are concentrating on personal performances to get ready for the conference meet,” said senior Shanna Pickett. “We had a really good day of training on Tuesday and we’re doing a lot of good stuff to prepare for this weekend’s meet and those to follow.”

The team will again have a home-field advantage Friday and Saturday as it hosts the Central Collegiate Championships. This is the second of three consecutive home meets that the team will host during its indoor season and its second opportunity in figuring out the perfect lineup.

“We’re putting people in different positions to find where athletes best fit in terms of preparation for the Big Ten meet,” said head coach Gary Winckler. “We’re trying to find the best combinations.”

This is also the only indoor home meet in which the distance runners will be competing.

“They just came off of a long cross-country season, and we’re trying not to run them too much,” Winckler said. “Our season goes from September to June, so we’re trying to avoid injury.”

The team kicked off its indoor season last weekend with seven first-place finishes against Lincoln, Lindenwood and Missouri Baptist at the Illinois Open. Three of those seven victories were earned by the team’s newcomers.

Sophomore Carlene Robinson’s finishing time of one minute and 33.12 seconds in the 600-meter run earned her first indoor track victory as an Illini, while freshman Katie Coppin finished first in the mile and Ashley Hanshaw placed on top in the pole vault.

“We have a lot of young athletes, and for some of them it was their first indoor competition,” Winckler said. “We had a good opening meet.”

Sophomore Yvonne Mensah and Pickett also captured first place finishes last weekend.