Illini men’s track closes regular season at Iowa State

Illinois+Cam+Viney+goes+over+the+final+hurdle+of+the+110+meter+hurdle+event+during+the+Illinois+Twilight+Track+and+Field+meet+at+Illinois+Soccer+and+Track+Stadium%2C+on+Saturday%2C+April+12%2C+2014.

Brenton Tse | Senior photographer

Illinois’ Cam Viney goes over the final hurdle of the 110 meter hurdle event during the Illinois Twilight Track and Field meet at Illinois Soccer and Track Stadium, on Saturday, April 12, 2014.

By Will Most

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The Illinois men’s track team has its last test before the Big Ten championship this weekend in Ames, Iowa.

Iowa State hosts the Cyclone Classic this weekend, the last regular season meet for the Illini this season.

While the Cyclone Classic might not feature as tough of competition as some of the more notable events this season, the Illini will find themselves stacked up against nationally ranked opponent, No. 11 Stanford. 

Illinois will be challenged the most in the distance category, an area where Stanford and host Iowa State have excelled.

Over the last few years, Stanford has consistently been one of the five best cross country teams, and that success translates directly into its distance unit for track and field. 

Iowa State finished fifth at the Midwest Cross Country regionals this fall, a finish that beat out the relatively successful Illinois cross country team whose members are key parts of the Illinois distance team.

“Dylan is going to be in a really fast 5K, it’s going to be a national meet preview,” head coach Mike Turk said. “If he can hang in there and battle away in that 5K, I think he’s got a great shot of earning his way into the NCAA Championships.”

With such stiff competition, Illini track star Dylon Lafond will have to step up to continue his patch of great performances and first place finishes. It will take more than a strong performance from Lafond to lead Illinois to a favorable result this weekend. While Lafond has consistently delivered strong performances, other team leaders, such as All-American Cam Viney are looking to elevate their performances to a caliber that can lead to success at the Big Ten championship.

“I always just want to grow, I’m not in tip-top 400 shape yet,” Cam Viney said. “I’m just not running the race I know I can run.”

With a week off following the Illini’s trip to Iowa, it will be important for the core members of the team to finish their regular season on a strong note. With about 20 athletes already selected to attend the Big Ten Championships which allows a maximum of 32 athletes, these next two meets will be important in shaping the roster Turk fields at the end of the month.

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