Several Illini compete at USA Track and Field Championships


Brenton Tse | Senior photographer

Illinois’ DJ Zhan crosses the finish line to win the 4×100 meter relay during the Illinois Twilight Track and Field meet at Illinois Soccer and Track Stadium on Saturday, April 12, 2014.

By Masaki Sugimoto

Several current and former Illini competed in the 2015 United States Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

The Championships featured some of the best track and field talent from all around the U.S. The tournament could also be an indicator for the American spots at Rio 2016. 

There were nine men who competed for the Fighting Illini. Of those nine, four were All-Americans in this past outdoor season.

David Kendziera and Cam Viney competed in the 400m hurdles. Kendziera placed 16th with a time of 50.81 and Viney placed 22nd with a time of 52.04.

Kendziera did well enough to advance to the semifinals and was the only current Illini to advance past the preliminary rounds. He impressed in the semifinals as well, posting the seventh fastest time at 49.57.

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    However, Kendziera did not advance after being only the fifth-fastest runner in his heat.

    Big Ten Champion DJ Zahn and Brandon Stryganek competed as sprinters for the Illini. DJ Zahn finished 22nd in the 400m with a time of 46.28, while Stryganek competed in the 200m, finishing 26th with a time of 21.09

    Joe McAsey competed in the 800m. In his spring season at Illinois, he was an All-American in the 400m relay. McAsey finished 24th with a time of 1:49.92.

    NCAA All-American Davis Fraker took part in the hammer throw, finishing 17th by throwing 64.60m.

    Dylan Lafond took part in the 3,000m steeplechase, finishing 20th with a time of 9:05.7.

    Brandon Stryganek competed as the final 200m sprinter, finishing 26th with a time of 21.09.

    The big story from Illinois, however, was Gia Lewis-Smallwood, who won her third consecutive USATF discus title.

    The Champaign, Illinois, native represented the New York Athletic Club and Nike en route to the title. She is the first to ever complete a three-peat since Seilala Sua won four consecutive titles in 1998-2001.

    “It’s not easy to win a national title, let alone three-peat,” said event head coach Mike Turk in a press release. “This was a hard earned victory for Gia. Her experience and mental toughness made the difference today.”

    Lewis-Smallwood competed for the Illini from 1998 to 2001.

    There were two Illinois commits who competed in Eugene as well. Jonathan Wells and Dan Lathrop wore Illini colors at the championships.

    Wells finished fifth in the high jump with a clearance of 2.14m and Lathrop was able to finish seventh in the 10,000m with a time of 32:49.92.

    Stephanie Richartz donned Orange and Blue for the last time at the USATF championships. She finished 14th clearing 4.25m. That ends Richartz career representing Illinois as one of the all-time track and field greats.

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