Women win Carle Health Alliance Classic

By Regina Spachner

Six first place titles and 22 top-three finishes gave the women’s track and field team the edge it needed to take first place at the Carle Health Alliance Classic on Saturday. Despite facing its toughest competition thus far into the season, the Illini remain unbeaten.

“Georgia is the best level of competition that we’ve faced at this point in our season,” said head coach Gary Winckler.

The meet was scored as a double duel meet. Illinois topped Georgia 196 to 158 and Syracuse 210 to 150.

“It was another good step for us,” Winckler said. “We moved people around again today. Many ran events they normally don’t compete in. We’re becoming more diverse as a team. The milers did a great job today. (Sophomores) Camile and Carlene Robinson did a good job. We had a number of personal bests, 10-12, I think.”

Sophomore Cassie Hunt’s finishing time of 4 minutes, 47.93 seconds was a personal best and earned her the first place spot in the mile, while senior teammate Tabitha Volling captured second place. Hunt’s finishing time was .33 seconds short of provisionally qualifying for the NCAA Indoor Championship meet.

Sophomore Yvonne Mensah finished first in the 60-meter hurdles for the third consecutive meet this season and second in both the 60-meter and 200-meter dash to Georgia senior Krysha Bayley.

Junior Natalie Young led the Illini to a 1-2-3 finish in the 600-meter run. She finished with a time of 1:37.59.

“It wasn’t as fast as I wanted,” Young said. “I was happy with it, but I want to keep training hard. My ultimate goal is to score points for Illinois at Big Tens.”

The team also captured places 1-2-3 in the 400-meter dash and 60-meter hurdles.

Junior Nina Henson’s jump of 11.97 meters earned her the first place finish in the triple jump while sophomore teammate Kristina Jones followed to take second with a jump of 11.92 meters. Henson also took third in the long jump.

“As far as the long and triple jump, I felt pretty good,” Henson said. “I’m getting over an injury, so I think that I jumped pretty decent.”

Despite top performances this weekend, the team is still looking to improve.

“I’m focusing on my rhythm in both the long jump and triple jump approaches,” Henson said. “I’m focusing on converting from long to triple jump. I have big expectations for myself. This year is starting off better than the last.”

With three meets underway, Winckler says he has seen improvement in his team.

“Particular for the young girls, they have now become accustomed to collegiate track competition,” Winckler said. “Their marks are getting better each week.”

The team will be back in action Friday when it travels to South Bend to compete at the Mayo Invitation.