Women’s track travels to L.A.

By Regina Spachner

The Illini’s two-week break from competition comes to an end this weekend as they travel to Los Angeles to compete at the Rafer Johnson/Jackie Joyner-Kersee Invitational.

“We’ve been training really hard the past two weeks,” said senior Shanna Pickett. “We’re concentrating on qualifying for regionals.”

Middle distance runners, sprinters and field athletes will be representing the Illini among a number of elite track and field athletes from around the world.

The Illini will face some of the nation’s best competition in Stanford, Arizona, BYU, Hawaii, Utah State, CS Northridge, Cal Poly SLO, UC San Diego and Point Loma.

2004 Olympic Gold Medalists Joanne Hayes and Monique Henderson, along with 2004 Olympians Alyson Felix, Sheena Johnson and Seilala Sua, will be participating in this weekend’s meet.

The women have high hopes for this competition.

“I’m just looking forward to the meet,” Pickett said. “I’ve already regionally qualified in the long jump, but I’m looking to better my mark. I also want to help my relay team qualify for regionals.”

This will be the second consecutive away meet for the Illini. Two weeks ago they traveled to Arizona to compete in the Arizona Heptathlon and the Jim Click Shootout. Unlike their past indoor season where they competed in their first three meets of the season at home, the team will travel for all outdoor meets but one.

“This season we’re going to some really interesting places,” Pickett said. “I haven’t traveled this much in the past.”