Women’s track set to begin Kansas Relays

By Anthony Zilis

After previously missing out on regionally qualifying in the 400 meters by less than half a second, Omoye Ugiagbe felt confident she would reach the mark last Saturday.

Although she missed the time by an excruciating one hundredth of a second, Ugiagbe is certain she will achieve her goal this week when the Illini head to Lawrence, Kan., on Wednesday to compete in the Kansas Relays.

“I’ve been really close in the last few meets,” Ugiagbe said. “So I should definitely be able to make it to regionals.”

Ugiagbe believes that running the 200 meters, in which she qualified regionally, and spending the day under the hot Tempe, Ariz., sun affected her 400-meter run last week.

This weekend should be different, with the temperatures in Lawrence expected to only reach the upper 60s compared to the 85 degree heat in Tempe. Ugiabe also hopes that a lighter work load will help her remain fresh by only running the 400 and 4×100.

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“I don’t have a lot to do this weekend, so it will help me to prepare and stay focused on just qualifying and improving on my time in the 400 meters,” Ugiagbe said.

With many Illini already qualifying for the NCAA Regional Championships on May 30, senior LaNeisha Waller said it was critical for the athletes to build momentum and improve seeding going into the Big Ten Championships.

“It’s pretty important,” Waller said. “We just want to get our times down so we’re at the top of the list for our individual events for Big Tens.”

With sprinters getting most of the accolades so far this season, freshman Danelle Woods expects the team’s distance runners to pull their own weight.

“The sprinters are all really performing well,” Woods said. “Hopefully, our distance girls will all come out and do well.”

Following a record-breaking performance in the 3000-meter steeplechase last week at the Sun Angel Track Classic, Woods will take a break from the race and just run the 1500 meters. Sophomore Angela Bizzarri, who ran the second fastest 1500-meters in Illinois history last week, will sit out of the meet completely.

Distance coach Jeremy Rasmussen said the goal for this meet, like every other meet, is to improve.

“Every time we go out there to race, we try to make ourselves better from the last week,” Rasmussen said.