Illini women head to Arkansas



By Daniel Johnson

Fourteen members of the Illinois women’s track and field team will head to Fayetteville, Ark., for the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships Friday and Saturday. The women will be running, throwing and jumping for a chance to advance to Des Moines, Iowa, for the NCAA National Championships.

Head coach Gary Winckler said Thursday that he was very proud of the way his team performed at Big Ten Championships and is optimistic going to Fayetteville.

“We’re all real positive going into this, and our sole purpose is to as qualify as many people as possible, getting them into the top five and top three in events,” he said.

While Winckler likes his team’s chance of qualifying athletes for Des Moines, he was cognizant of the fact that some are between making NCAAs and having to sit them out. In the time leading up to the Midwest Championships, Winckler, who is famous in track circles for his coaching tact and technique, said that the team should be doing more of what they had been. The 22nd year coach was pushing those fringe athletes into, what he hopes, will be the next level of competition.

“We have a lot of our athletes on that top eight to 10 range right now,” he said. “Of the girls going, we’re going to have to move some of those up higher this weekend and get them to Des Moines.”

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

The coach was not liberal with names that he thought would qualify, but Winckler named some athletes who performed well at Big Tens as his likely group of those who might qualify, though didn’t limit it to that.

“I think that LaNeisha (Waller), Angela (Bizzari) and Aja (Evans) are in a great spot right now, and we have some other people in the 1500, Rachel Hernandez and Katie Engel, that have a good chance too,” Winckler said. “Those are just some of the names that I think of. We have a lot of girls that should be able to do well and qualify.”