Regular season comes to end; Stewart earns personal record


Elisabeth Neely

Kortni Smyers-Jones (left), Pedrya Seymour (middle), and Jayla Stewart (right) race down the track during the 100 Meter Hurdles at Illinois Twilight at the Illinois Track Field on Saturday, Apr. 22. Illini swept the top three places in the event with Seymour in first, Stewart in second, and Smyers-Jones in third.

By Meghan Rest, Staff writer

The Illinois women’s track & field team concluded its regular season at the Drake Relays this weekend after scoring in three relays and earning one event title.

Jayla Stewart clocked a personal record of 13.14 seconds to give her a first-place finish in the 100-meter hurdles final. The junior shaved 0.31 seconds off of her time, and put out the third-best performance in the Big Ten this season.

Stewart said pinpointing her placement over hurdles in the prelims was an important part of her race in the finals, despite the rainy conditions.

“Continuously going through the hurdles just set me up for a really good run when it mattered the most,” Stewart said in a press release.

Last week, Stewart said she placed an emphasis on block starts and hurdle reps at practice.

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“I’ve been working at this for a really long time,” Stewart said. “I was getting a little frustrated a couple weeks back, so I was happy to come out here and still set a personal record.”

Following Stewart’s solo performance, the Illini also acquired points in three different relay events. Illinois placed second in the shuttle hurdle relay with a time of 54.54, a 0.22 second improvement of last year’s time that earned the event title.

Last year, the team of current redshirt junior Pedrya Seymour, Stewart, junior Jasmine Berry and senior Kortni Smyers-Jones completed a first-place finish with a time of 54.76.

This year’s hurdle relay set the tone for the sprint medley and 4×100 meter relays later on.

The sprint medley relay (200-200-400-800) that consisted of senior Kymbriona Taylor and freshmen Felicia Phillips, Chisom Nwoko and Morgan Schulz finished sixth overall.

In the 4×100 meter relay, the Illini turned in a fourth-place finish with a time of 45.79. The team was composed of Seymour, sophomore Briana Driver, junior Janile Rogers and Taylor.

Head coach Ron Garner said in a press release Illinois found success in the relays and hurdles despite the unfavorable conditions.

“It was a very productive day,” Garner said. “The shuttle hurdle broke into the top-five all-time time, and Jayla ran a great race in the 100m hurdles under pretty miserable conditions. Our 4x100m relay was leading coming down the backstretch, but we have to continue to smooth out our third exchange, and that’s where we got caught up.”

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