Illinois women’s track and field seniors compete at home for last time


Austin Yattoni

Illinois’ Kandie Bloch-Jones attempts the high jump during the Orange and Blue meet on Saturday, February 20, 2016. Illinois will host and compete next at the Twilight meet on Saturday, April 22.

By Meghan Rest, Staff writer

Illinois will host a dozen teams at its annual Twilight meet Saturday.

For senior high-jumper Kandie Bloch-Jones, her final competitions are winding down. With the Big Ten championships on the horizon and only having jumped two outdoor meets this season, Bloch-Jones is ready to take advantage of her final months at Illinois.

“Only having two meets under my belt, I just kind of want to take this meet and just have fun with it, since it is my last meet here,” Bloch-Jones said. “I just want to basically practice, learn and get ready for Drake (relays) and Big Tens.”

Bloch-Jones is aiming to topple her previous record at 1.8 meters (6 feet) but has a slot in the NCAA regional finals with her season-best at 1.7 meters (5’10”).

Although the meet marks the end of an era for some Illini, it’s also a chance to prepare for Big Ten championships May 6.

“I see it as a way to get in and get some more runs in before Big Ten championships and NCAA prelims,” sophomore hurdler Jayla Stewart said. “I just want to get in a good time, so I know where I’m at before I actually get to the big meets.”

Stewart is one of several athletes who has already clocked a qualifying time for regionals. After running a 13.28, Stewart is sitting comfortably in the top-48 fastest times that are eligible for a slot. Fellow hurdler Kortni Smyers-Jones is right on the cusp. Both hurdlers will also run the 200 meter Saturday.

But she said her confidence in training will push her to a higher ranking.

“I’m confident in my training; I don’t like to overthink, so I kind of just trust in my abilities and what I know I’m capable of,” Smyers-Jones said. “I’m not running it at the Big Tens — I’m doing it more so as a workout to stay in shape for the 100 hurdles, but anything can happen. I’m pretty sure if I go out there and bust an incredible time, I could be considered to run at the Big Tens.”

[email protected]