Track meet delay perfect for Illini

Angela Bizzarri finishes a run during the Illinois Invitational at the Outdoor Track and Soccer Stadium on Sunday. Beck Diefenbach

Beck Diefenbach

Angela Bizzarri finishes a run during the Illinois Invitational at the Outdoor Track and Soccer Stadium on Sunday. Beck Diefenbach

By Daniel Johnson

The decision to move the Illinois Invitational from Saturday to Sunday worked out in favor of the Illinois women’s track and field team. The sun shined throughout the day at the Illinois Track and Soccer Complex, providing favorable weather for the meet.

“I think that it was a smart decision to move the meet,” head coach Gary Winckler said. “We had a pretty good day today; we had a lot of people set some personal bests. We ran some really nice sprint times; the 1500-meter times were good, Katie Engel did a great job. It was good for us, especially after last week. We had one meet cancelled and the other one basically cancelled, so it was nice to get out there finally.”

Engel took the 1500-meter run with a time of 4:24.45 while fellow Illini Angela Bizzarri placed third (4:28.78). Bizzarri placed second in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:17.35.

“The 800 went well, I felt good at the end, so I was excited about that,” Bizzarri said. “It’s definitely nice having a lot of people that are really good to push you, both in workouts and in races; it helps to run faster.”

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
Thank you for subscribing!

The sprint and hurdle events also fared well on Sunday. Senior Yvonne Mensah won the 100-meter dash with a time of 11.42 and placed first in the 200-meter dash with a time of 23.62 – both times are regional qualifiers. The Illini swept the top three spots in the 400-meter dash as Camile Robinson, Carlene Robinson and Omoye Ugiagbe finished with times of 54.91, 54.99 and 55.49, respectively. Kristina Jones took the triple jump with a distance of 12.45 meters and placed second in the long jump with a distance of 5.64 meters. LaNeisha Waller won the 100-meter hurdles in 13.45 seconds. While Waller was happy with her result, she is still hoping to achieve more before the season’s end.

“The team is definitely looking to qualify for nationals,” Waller said. “First you just want to qualify for regionals and after you get past that, you want to be consistent with what you’re already doing. Then you want to make it to nationals, that’s the ultimate goal.”

The 200-meter dash saw some new participants from the team. The Illini sent 12 women to compete in the event. Winckler had said throughout the week that he had wanted to run a lot of the team in the event to get certain athletes, like high jumper Mariesa Greene, a chance to work on speed.

“That was a fun event,” Winckler said. “We put everyone in the 200 today and said, ‘This is going to be your fun event,’ but Mariesa was the highlight of it.”

Greene, who had a time of 27.02 in the 200-meter dash, had regional qualifying marks in the high jump with a height of 1.70 meters and the javelin with a distance of 41.97 meters.

Her high jump also was good enough for first place in the event.

The Illini will have a short practice week before traveling to Lawrence, Kan., for the Kansas Relays, Thursday through Saturday.