Illini snag first place finishes at Invite

By Steve Contorno

Building on the success of last weekend’s Spec Town Invite, the Illinois men’s track team tallied six first place finishes and qualified another individual for regional competition at the 10th annual Tom Botts Invitational in Columbia, Mo.

Illinois freshman Dominique Worsley had another outstanding meet for the Illini. Although he already qualified for regionals in the 100-meter dash at the Spec Town Invite with a personal best time of 10.50, he surpassed that with a time of 10.41 en route to a first place finish. He was one of two Illinois athletes to reach regional qualifying marks on the day.

Junior pole vaulter Eric DiSilvestro launched himself to the regional qualifying height of 5.05 meters, clinching first place in the event as he edged out sophomore teammate John Adamczyk who vaulted 4.90 meters for a second-place finish.

The highlight of the meet for Illinois was finishing first, second and third in the 200-meter dash. Illinois senior All-American Abe Jones finished first overall with a personal record of 21.23, but missed the regional qualifying mark of 21.19. Right behind him were teammates junior Nathan Vadeboncoeur and sophomore Pierre Bush with times of 21.45 and 21.56 respectively. Bush’s time was a personal best. Jones’ said sweeping the event was a goal going into the event.

“It was a great opportunity for us,” Jones said. “We went in and took one, two, three just like we wanted to. We knew we could do it and we just came in and had fun with it.”

Jones’ wasn’t done after the 200-meter dash. He took a break from his top event – the 400-meter dash – where he is ranked number two in the Big Ten by two seconds. Instead, Jones focused on the 110-meter hurdles where he took third with a time of 14.32, barely missing the qualifying time of 14.30. But after a shaky start caused by the contact of Illinois’ Andre English and Anthony Young stumbling on the first hurdle, assistant coach Willie Williams was impressed with how Jones finished.

“(Jones) was able to stay up because of his strength,” Williams said. “He is an ex-football player and that’s how he practices and that’s how he runs. It was a major accomplishment for him to be able to finish that race and shows how strong he is.”

Jones sees himself finishing strong with just a few weeks left in the season. “Starting the outdoor season after a great indoor season, it’s hard to progress at a rapid pace,” Jones said. “I have to get stronger, but I’m doing a great job working to get on top. You’ll see me again at conference and nationals.”

Williams took over for head coach Wayne Angel, who was absent due to an emergency in the family, and was impressed with the team’s overall performance.

“I thought the meet was very good for us,” Williams said. “We did a great job of competing and I’m proud of them. We were able to rise up and compete well for coach (Angel) while he wasn’t there.”

Also snagging first place finishes for Illinois were senior Aaron King in the 400-meter hurdle (54.69), junior Dan Stock in the 3000-meter steeplechase (9:15.55) and sophomore Nick Brown in the triple jump (14.88-meters). The results are a positive sign for Williams as the season progresses.

“We’re really moving forward,” Williams said.