Seymour hopes to continue strong streak at nationals

By Jacob Diaz

Illini sophomore hurdler Pedrya Seymour has had a good month.

Three weeks ago at the Orange and Blue Open, she matched her personal best in the 60 meter hurdles — 8.21 seconds — en route to a first-place finish. She followed up that performance by shaving her personal best down to 8.16 seconds at the Big Ten Championships. That time was good enough for third place and earned her a spot in the NCAA Indoor Championships this weekend in Birmingham, Alabama. 

Her performance caught the attention of the Bahamian Association of Athletics Associations, who invited the Nassau native to represent her home country at next weekend’s World Indoor Track and Field Championships.

Seymour will have her work cut out for her this weekend. Friday night at 6:20 she will compete in the 60 meter hurdle semifinal, and try to pull off an upset to qualify for Saturday’s final. While she will be running against the nation’s toughest runners, Seymour’s stiffest competition will be two familiar faces. 

Her in-conference rivals Cindy Ofili of Michigan and Purdue’s Devynne Charlton — the only runners to best Seymour at the Big Ten Championships — come into the competition ranked first and second in the nation, respectively. 

Head coach Ron Garner was proud of Seymour’s performance against Ofili and Charlton at the Big Ten Championships, but Seymour has a lot of ground to cover to catch up to the pair of runners, both of whom have clocked in at under eight seconds.

Joining Seymour in Birmingham is junior high jumper Kandie Bloch-Jones. She lost to Purdue’s Janae Moffit on tiebreakers at the Big Ten Championships, but her best jump of the season, 1.83 meters, was high enough to qualify for nationals. 

Like Seymour, Bloch-Jones is ranked No. 13 in the country in her respective event coming in to the competition. Saturday afternoon Bloch-Jones will hope to improve on her performance from two weeks ago, which she said was disappointing and not her best effort.

Seymour and Bloch-Jones will not be joined by junior Nicole Choquette, who set the second-best time in school history in the 800 meters at the Big Ten Championships. 

Her time of 2:05.90 was second in the Big Ten but only 33rd in the country, and was over a second slower than the 16th place spot that would have qualified her for nationals. The 800 at the Indoor National Championship will not feature any Big Ten runners.

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