Track to compete at Big Ten Championship

By Troy Murray

The last time the men’s track team won the Big Ten Indoor Championship was in 1989, but the Illini hope to change that this weekend in West Lafayette, Ind. Last year Illinois finished in fourth place behind Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, the defending Big Ten Champion.

The favorite to win the meet is Wisconsin, which is currently ranked third in the nation. But according to head coach Wayne Angel, second and third place are wide open. Illinois, Indiana and Michigan will all be competing for those spots.

The Big Ten is well-known in the track world, having three of the top five teams in the nation – Indiana is second and Michigan and Wisconsin are tied for third in the rankings. Angel said the Big Ten is in the top three track conferences in the nation.

Sophomore Zach Glavash, who was runner-up last year in the 600m, will have his second chance to be Big Ten champ in that event. This year he is seeded first in the event. Wisconsin Junior Joe Detmer beat Glavash last year by seven-tenths of a second.

Angel has confidence in Glavash.

“He’s got a great shot at winning,” Angel said. “Glavash just has to run within himself, be controlled and focused. I think if he wants to win it, he will.”

Junior Tra Smith has a chance of winning the 800m, but will have to take it from Michigan senior and defending national champion Nathan Brannen. Smith is seeded fifth in the event.

Although Smith is running against the national champ in the event, he seems to be treating this as any other race and the fact that Brannen will try to defend his title this weekend does not seem to faze him.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for me to go out and win a great race,” Smith said. “If you can’t run a good race against the national champ, you shouldn’t be running, period. As long as I run my best, that’s all I can ask for.”

The mile relay of sophomore Nathan Vadeboncoeur and juniors Adrian Walker, Abe Jones and Smith is favored to win the event.

Illinois also has a chance to score big in the long jump, with three athletes seeded in the top eight. Freshmen Nick Brown and Pierre Bush are third and seventh, respectively, while senior Josh Fournier is eighth.

Angel says the Illini are prepared for the biggest meet of the year thus far.

“I’m very excited,” Angel said. “I think as a team we’re hungry, we’re anticipating great performances and we can’t wait. We trained very hard this season and now we’re ready to show it.”