Men look to improve upon Regional Times

By Troy Murray

The Illinois men’s track team will venture to Knoxville, Tenn. to take on the likes of Tennessee, South Carolina and Pittsburgh in the Sea Ray Relays this weekend.

The Illini have 16 total regional qualifiers so far this year, matching last year’s total for the entire season. The NCAA Regional Championship is set for May 27, still more than one month away. According to head coach Wayne Angel, 20-25 regional qualifiers would not be pushing the limits of the team.

Only five individuals from each event at regionals make it to the NCAA National Championship meet the weekend after regionals. Athletes can also make it if they are in the top eight in their event at regionals and have one of the fastest times in the nation. This is why Angel said meets the rest of the way are important.

“We’re trying to bring guys up just to get faster qualifying times or qualifying times for the regional meet,” said Angel. “The goal of this meet is improvement and consistency – we want to do better. We want to build upon the momentum that we’ve started in the first half of the season. We’re on a roll right now; we want to continue that and keep building up until we hit a crescendo at the Big Ten Championship.”

The 4×800-meter relay of sophomores Zach Glavash, Jeremy Kruidenier, junior Tra Smith and senior Eric King hope to break the Volunteers’ four-year win streak in the event.

The 800 will showcase indoor All-American Glavash, indoor Big Ten Champion Smith and sophomore Paul Cross from Tennessee. Glavash qualified for regionals at the Illinois-California dual meet on April second, running the event in 1:48.47. Cross’ best time in the event is 1:46.60. Smith also ran a qualifying time of 1:48.85 at the Illinois-California dual meet.

In other action this week, two distance runners will travel to Walnut, Calif. to run in the Mt. SAC Relay meet. Sophomore Jason Bill will run the 100 and junior Tim Hobbs will run in the 1,500.

Hobbs had a strong showing at the Florida Relays on March 27, setting a personal best time in the 1,500 while battling a cold. Bill has already regionally qualified for the 5,000 and hopes to bring home one more qualification after this weekend.

“Overall we’re running our elite kids, trying to get some top performances and just see where we are,” Angel said.