Men’s track and field compete in New York

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Online Poster

By Troy Murray

The men’s track and field team will compete this weekend in Manhattan, New York, in one of the biggest meets of the year.

Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana State University, Stanford, Texas and Villanova will all be competing in the meet. In the most recent national rankings available at trackshark.com, Arkansas was ranked No. 1 in the nation, Texas was fourth, LSU was ranked seventh and Stanford was 16.

Illinois beat Georgia this past weekend at the Carle/Health Invite Classic.

“Georgia is going to be the team that we’re going to try and go after,” said sophomore sprinter Nathan Vadeboncoeur. “They were here last weekend and we beat them. They ran some really good races and I hope we can beat them again Saturday.”

Three of the teams competing in the meet finished in the top five at last year’s NCAA National Championship meet – LSU and Arkansas placed first and second respectively, while Texas finished a close fourth.

According to head coach Wayne Angel, the main goal this weekend is not to win the meet, but to qualify as many individuals as possible for NCAA Nationals.

“We’re trying to get kids to qualify for nationals,” Angel said. “We’re also using this meet as a means to measure our strength as individual runners and as an indicator of the depth of our program.”

According to Angel, the Illini have a chance to qualify six to seven athletes for the National meet on March 11.

Sophomores Jason Bill and Seth Pilkington have a chance to qualify in the 3000m. Bill’s personal best time stands at 8:07.81 and Pilkington’s best is 4:08.22.

To automatically qualify for the NCAA championships, Bill and Pilkington will have to run the 3000m in a time of 7:57.30.

Sophomore Zach Glavash and junior Tra Smith could qualify in the 800m. Glavash’s best time of 1:49.75 came last year at the Iowa State Classic while Smith’s best time is slightly faster at 1:49.74. In order to qualify, they must run it in 1:48.60.

Freshman Nick Brown, who has not competed in the last two meets because of a strained left hamstring, could qualify in the long jump and triple jump.

Brown’s best in the long jump is 7.46m and 15.48m in the triple jump. He must jump 7.85m to qualify in the long jump and 16.20m in the triple jump.

Junior Eric DiSilvestro must pole vault a new personal best of 5.50m in order to qualify automatically – his best is 5.06m.

As for being distracted by the nightlife and bright lights of Manhattan, Angel and Vadeboncoeur said the trip is all about business.

“There isn’t really any time to sightsee because you get in the night before and you have to warm up and prepare for your race,” Vadeboncoeur said. “The next two days are competitions and you can’t really go the night before competition to see anything. There really won’t be any time for that.”

Although the Illini faced what was their toughest test at the time, Angel said this meet will show a lot about what could happen in the next few meets.

“I want to see how well these guys can compete against elite collegiate athletes and how that will transfer into great performances at the Big Ten Championship at the end of February,” Angel said. “We’re at a higher level because of the competition we’ve faced at home and we want to see what we can do against the big boys.”