Riley just misses hurdles 3-peat

Only five hundredths of a second kept Illinois men’s track and field athlete Andrew Riley from a third straight national championship.

Riley placed second in the 110-meter hurdles in 13.33 seconds behind LSU’s Barrett Nugent on Saturday at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Des Moines, Iowa.

Riley’s eight points helped Illinois as a team place 12th for its best finish since placing seventh in 1988.

“My style was off, I was the last one out, I saw a lot of guys in front of me and had to dig deep and came up short,” Riley said. “Nugent is a very good competitor, and the field was stacked with great guys. It’s disappointing, but it goes sometimes that way.”

Riley had battled Nugent in the past as the Kingston, Jamaica, native beat out a second-place Nugent in last season’s final round.

In this past season’s 4×100 meter relay, Illinois placed third as Riley’s strong start was taken advantage of by Azeez Shogbuyi and Josh Zinzer, who maintained a strong pace before junior Stanley Azie anchored. The time of 38.96 seconds was the group’s second-fastest of the season.

“The 4×100 meter relay was a thrilling race,” interim head coach Mike Turk said in a press release. “The guys had terrific handoffs and competed at the highest level from start to finish.”

Azie also had a strong weekend, securing All-America honors after a sixth-place finish in the 100 meters Friday with the second fastest time of his career at 10.30 seconds.

“I’ve come a long way this year, and I know what I have to do now to get to that next level,” Azie said. “I would have liked to do better than sixth place, but I was happy to make the final for the first time and earn All-American honors. I just want to get back here next year and do even better.”

Senior Cody Wisslead also became an All-American for the first time in his career when he placed eighth in the 400-meter hurdles in 51.39 seconds, earning Illinois its other team point.

The Sciota, Ill., native was the first Illini to compete in the event since 2004.

On the women’s side, junior Ashley Kelly finished eighth in Friday’s 400 meters final with a time of 53.64 seconds to become an All-American.

The following day, senior Chantelle Groenewoud finished 12th in the 3,000 meter steeplechase in 10:22.59 to close out her Illinois career.

Kelly’s one point placed the team 66th.

The weekend marked the final collegiate event of the season, but both teams will also be sending athletes to the USA Outdoor Championships, which run June 23-26.