Illini track squads head to Iowa as Indoors approach

By Kevin Olsen

With only two weeks remaining before the Big Ten Indoor Championships, the Illinois men’s and women’s track and field teams will travel to Iowa State to compete in a field of more than 90 schools.

The meet will be the women’s last chance to move up in the ranks before the Big Tens.

“We’re just trying to clean up our technique a little bit and eliminate some of the errors we’ve seen in competing in the last meet,” women’s head coach Gary Winckler said. “I think we’re going to be well on our way to being ready.”

The men will look to add more provisional qualifiers this weekend. Head coach Wayne Angel said he expects athletes like Nick Brown, Gary Miller, Brandon Gray and Dominique Worsley to have a good chance at hitting provisional marks for Nationals. Reigning two-time Big Ten Track Athlete of the Week Lesiba Masheto will not be competing this week.

“The plan for this meet is that we want to individually compete in such a fashion that our times move us up in the Big Ten,” Angel said. “We want to move up individually in the ranks, so that collectively, as a team, we can get a snapshot of where the program is going into the Big Ten.”

Worsley, 60 meters, and Brown, long jump, just missed provisional qualifiers last week. Brown is confident he will hit a provisional mark this weekend and is looking to surprise people in the Big Ten.

“I want to really put a good mark out,” Brown said. “I just want to make some noise and tell these people I’m coming for them.”

The women will have their last opportunity before Big Tens to get their times down and their confidence up. Winckler said it is important to get his middle distance runners some more races this weekend, and they will be able to get more opportunities running in multiple rounds.

Senior LaNeisha Waller provisionally qualified in the 60-meter hurdles last weekend but is still looking to get her times down to where they have been in the past. She will also compete in the long jump.

“I’m just looking at it as an opportunity to get my time down,” Waller said about the three rounds of running in the 60-meter hurdles.

Winckler wants to see a lot of personal bests for his team as it prepares for the conference meet. He expects to see some improvement in the 60 meters and 60-meter hurdles and acknowledged his team is getting better each week in the jumps and throws.

“I think Omoye Ugaigbe’s ready to run a good 400 this week,” Winckler said. “She really seems to be mentally prepared for that and anxious about it.”

For the men, distance runners Trent Hoerr and Jacob Nachel will travel to Seattle with distance coach Wendel McRaven to compete in the 5,000 meters at the Husky Invitational in hopes of provisionally qualifying for the event.

“Times are going to be much faster this week,” Angel said. “This is the time to get ready for the Big Ten, and then you carry the momentum into the Big Ten. I’m confident we’re going to see a lot of really good performances. I think this meet will be a breakthrough meet for us.”

The field events will begin at 10:15 a.m. on Friday with the running events starting at 2 p.m. The Iowa State Classic will resume Saturday morning at 9:25 a.m. and lasts all day.