Distance medley caps Meyo Invite



By Kevin Olsen

After a two-week layoff from competition, the Illinois women’s track and field team recorded numerous personal bests and added two more provisional qualifiers this weekend. Senior LaNeisha Waller and the distance medley relay team highlighted the meet for the Illini at the Meyo Invitational at Notre Dame.

“Our goal is to try to keep improving each week and eliminate some mistakes, and I thought they competed really well this week,” Winckler said. “It’s becoming a lot clearer where people are going to fit into our scheme of things with the Big Ten meet in three weeks. I think we have a lot of good momentum going.”

The meet marked the return of the cross country runners, competing for the first time this season, as well as strong performances from two seniors, Waller and Tiara Armstrong.

“I think we came with a lot of confidence,” Armstrong said. “I think we were able to go out there and show what we had been working on in practice.”

Armstrong finished the 200 meters in a personal-best time of 24.19 seconds, finishing second as well as tying her previous career best in the 60 meters where she finished third in 7.48 seconds.

“My goal is a national goal,” Armstrong said. “I’m looking forward to Nationals, so I need to be running in the high to low 7.3s.”

Waller ran the 60-meter hurdles in 8.42 seconds to finish fourth. Head coach Gary Winckler said Waller still has not got her times down to where they have been in the past. This was only her second time competing this season, but it was still good enough for a provisional qualifier. She finished 11th in the 60-meter hurdles a year ago at Nationals.

The distance medley relay team set a school record, winning the event in 11:27.13. The team consisted of Omoye Ugaigbe, Danelle Woods, Rachel Hernandez and Angela Bizzarri, who was competing in her first meet of the year. Winckler said the relay’s time was not even close to how fast it can run and he expects members “to knock quite a bit of time off of that in the future.”

Sophomore Aja Evans provisionally qualified in the shot put for a second week in a row, finishing fourth with a distance of 50 feet 1/2 inches. Three Illini set personal bests in the 400 meters, led by Ugiagbe’s seventh-place finish in a time of 55.15 seconds.

The team will join the men next weekend for a competition at Iowa State.

“I think everybody on the team is finding what their niche is and where they are going to contribute for the team,” Winckler said.