Men and women’s track and field start strong

By Kevin Kaplan

Illinois women’s track and field junior distance runner Angela Bizzarri started out her indoor season strong with an automatic qualifying NCAA Championship time of 9 minutes, 11.62 seconds in the 3,000 meters. She placed third in the race at Notre Dame’s Meyo Invitational while setting a school record and slashing 11.4 seconds off of her previous personal-best.

Illinois also showed strong performances in the 5,000 meter run, with freshman Kristin Sutherland placing second (16:51.70) and junior Elizabeth Boyle placing seventh (17:32.15).

The Illini acted as a split squad over the weekend, and the group that went to the Rod McCravy Memorial Meet in Lexington, Ken., managed to impress as well.

Tamika Robinson had the best individual showing for the Illini, provisionally qualifying for the NCAA Championships with a third place finish in the 60-meter hurdles (8.37). She also placed fifth in the 60 meters (7.59). Another strong individual performance came from Omoye Ugiagbe, who placed fifth in the 200 meters (24.65).

Illinois also showed their depth in the 400 meters, with Illini placing in three of the top four spots. Freshman Ryisha Boyd placed second (55.16), sophomore Melissa Bates placed third (55.18) and senior Omoye Ugiagbe placed fourth (55.30). Those three, plus senior Deserea Brown, were able to provisionally qualify for the NCAA Championships in the 4×400 meter relay as they placed second (3:39.90) to Western Kentucky (3:37.97).

Illinois will next compete at the ISU Classic in Ames, Iowa on Feb. 13-14.

Illinois men’s track and field spent their weekend in New York City. Senior Gakologelwang Masheto went to the New Balance Invitational with two goals for the 500 meters. He wanted to both defend his title and break the NCAA record that he set in New York last year.

On Friday, Masheto was able to do one of the two, winning the 500 meters in a field of 69 competitors with a time of one minute, 2.11 seconds, but missing the mark he set last year by 1.29 seconds.

Masheto’s top-finish was the highlight of the meet for Illinois, though other Illini made improvements and exhibited solid performances.

Junior Scott Phelps scored points in the 1,000 meters with a seventh-place finish (2:27.99). Two 400-meter runners were able to tally season-bests while placing in the top-40 out of 146. Freshman Hendrik Maartens finished twenty-second (48.31) while sophomore Dan Jones finished in thirty-eighth (48.80).

The Illini men will join the women at the ISU Classic in Ames, Iowa on Feb. 13-14.