Men to use home meet for endurance

 

 

By Kevin Olsen

For the first time this season, the Illinois men’s track and field will compete on their home track. Wednesday’s Illinois Twilight meet marks the final tune-up for the squad before competing at the Big Ten Championships, which will also be held in Champaign.

“The one thing that is really special is that we get to compete in front of a hometown crowd, and it’s exciting that they’re there supporting us and cheering us on,” head coach Wayne Angel said. “You run really good times with your fans there.”

Illinois will use this meet mainly to strengthen athletes and their endurance before an extended rest leading up to Big Tens. It will also mark the first outdoor meet of the season where junior All-American Gakologelwang Masheto will compete as an individual. Masheto will run in his signature event, the 400 meters and 4×400 relay, as well as competing in the 200 meters to work on his speed.

Angel is confident Masheto will hit a regional qualifying time in the 400 on his first try. The 4×400 relays will be split up to face lesser competition, which will allow for a more competitive race. Sophomore Brandon Gray, who stepped up in the 4×400 in Masheto’s absence, will attempt to lower his individual 400 time to hit a qualifying mark.

Sophomore Dominique Worsley will hope to improve on his NCAA regional qualifying mark in the 100 and 200 meters. He currently ranks second in the Big Ten in the 200 and third in the 100. Worsley will also be part of a 4×400 relay team to work on building his strength for his signature sprints.

“I would like to run a season best in 100, as well as the 200, and hopefully, the weather will not be too cold,” Worsley said. “It’s good to be competing on our home track because it’s the first time competing here for a lot of guys, and it will be good to get a feel for the track.”

Junior Gary Miller will take a break from the 400-meter hurdles while participating in the 800 meters for the first time in the outdoor season. Angel believes Miller may have a better opportunity at scoring at Big Tens in the 800 meters. Miller will run alongside teammate Brian Beaird as they try to strategize and put themselves in good positions by the end of the race.

“Hopefully, I can possibly qualify in the 800 meters,” Miller said. “We have had cold meets all seasons, so it’s all the same to me.”

Athletes to keep an eye on in the field are senior Nick Brown competing in the long jump, junior Andrew Zollner in the pole vault and sophomore Greg Shroka in the high jump.

Field events will begin at 2 p.m. at the Illinois Soccer and Track Stadium, with running events kicking off at 5:30 p.m. with the 5,000 meters.