Men’s track ready to travel to Iowa

By Stuart Lieberman

The Illinois men’s track and field team will travel to Des Moines, Iowa, on Thursday to compete in the 98th running of the Drake Relays. It will be the final meet before the Big Ten Outdoor Championships, which begin on May 11, in State College, Pa.

Close to 8,000 athletes are expected to compete at Drake Stadium for the prestigious relays known as America’s Athletic Classic.

The Illini hold the record for the most overall titles in the Drake Relays at 132, a combination of records in both individual titles (61) and relay titles (71).

This team hopes to keep its momentum rolling. Last weekend, in the Kansas Relays, several freshmen stepped up, while a number of experienced team members earned personal best times. The Illini finished first in the 4×1600-meter relay and the 4×800-meter relay, and senior Jon Houseworth won the 3000-meter steeplechase.

Junior Trent Hoerr represented the Illini in the Oregon Invitational and qualified for regionals in the 5,000 meter.

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Head coach Wayne Angel said he wants to continue to improve on times and hopefully have some more regional qualifiers.

“What I hope to see is improvement and consistency,” Angel said. “This meet is primarily going to be used as part of our championship phase to help us prepare for Big Tens.”

Angel said he is looking for faster times in individual races from seniors Adrian Walker and Tramell Smith and sophomore Lesiba Masheto. He said he also is looking for Hoerr and senior Jason Bill to step up.

“Twenty percent of the guys are scoring 80 percent of the points. We want to push those guys,” Angel said.

With athletes coming from all over the country, the relays are sure to be competitive.

The relays begin Thursday.