Teams head to compete on big stage


Constance Sarantos

Madison Marasco (1) and Rebecca Craddock (8) run in the 1-mile event on Jan. 26 at the Armory. Head coach Michael Turk was inducted into the Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame in April.

By Claire O'Brien, Staff Writer

The Illinois men’s and women’s track and field teams competed at Arkansas and Iowa State this past weekend. The distance group, throwers and women’s pole vaulters went to Ames, Iowa, while the sprints groups, middle distance groups and remaining field events competed at Arkansas.

Women’s track and field gains momentum for the Big Ten meet

At Iowa State, sophomore distance runner Rebecca Craddock placed second in the 3000-meter run with a time of 9:30.97. Craddock’s time was a personal record  and the sixth-fastest time in program history. Her previous personal record was 9:33.76, which was set at last year’s Iowa State meet.

Junior pole vaulter Carolyn Nye finished second in the event, setting a personal best with 3.80 meters. Nye’s previous personal best was 3.77 meters, set at the Illini Invitational.

Craddock felt the success at the Iowa State meet boosted the team’s overall energy.

“They really make it cool with FloTrack being in there,” Craddock said. “For the distance races, well most of them at least, they have rabbits, like pacers to help us. It’s almost like they promise you a PR.”

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At Arkansas, sophomore high jumper Ololade Ayoola finished third in the high jump with a jump of 1.67 meters, setting a season best. Ayoola’s career best is 1.72 meters.

Junior sprinter Chisom Nwoko finished sixth in the 400-meter fastest sect with a time of 53.77. Kyra Constantine from the University of Southern California won the race with a time 53.07, but Nwoko set a new personal record with her time. Her previous personal record was set last season with a time of 54.16. Nwoko’s previous season-best time of 54.49, set at Iowa on Jan. 19, was ranked No. 54 in the NCAA heading into the weekend. Since then, Nwoko has bumped up to No. 31 in the 400-meter dash.

Head coach Michael Turk thought the team had a strong performance this weekend and has improved over the course of the indoor season.

“We’re consistently improving and building upon our performances and starting to put a body of work together,” Turk said.

Men’s track and field gains momentum after more competitive meets

At Arkansas, junior pole vaulter Jacob LaRocca placed second in pole vault, with 5.03 meters. His season-best 5.07 meters is ranked No. 61 in the NCAA. Alongside him, junior pole vaulter Cooper Jazo finished fourth with a height of 4.88 meters. However, Jazo’s season-best height tops off at 5.15 meters and comes in ranked No. 56 in the NCAA as of this weekend.

Senior sprinter Devin Quinn finished third in the 60-meter dash with a time of 6.67, 0.02 seconds short of his career-best time set last weekend at Nebraska. Heading into the weekend, Quinn’s time was No. 12 in the NCAA and his time in the 200-meter dash was the 11th-fastest time in the nation.

Junior distance runner Jon Davis was in the top three for most of the 3,000-meter run but finished 13th with a time of 8:03.84. Going into the weekend, Davis had the second-fastest mile time in the NCAA with a time of 3:58.06. After this weekend, however, Davis ranks seventh. Wisconsin’s Oliver Hoare has the fastest time in the mile, 3:54.83, which he set this weekend.

Another Illini cracks the list, however, as senior distance runner Jesse Reiser has the 33rd fastest time in the mile with a time of 4:01.98, set last weekend at Nebraska. Reiser placed 21st in the 5,000-meter run this weekend, with a time of 14:13.64.

Head coach Michael Turk said the team has shifted focus to the Big Ten meet coming up on Friday and Saturday.

“We’ve performed well in those bigger, tougher meets,” Turk said. “That the attitude is pretty sound right now.”

Illini distance medley relay team sets school record

Illinois sent two distance medley relay teams to Notre Dame on Saturday.

The women’s team made up of freshman distance runner Maddie Marasco, junior sprinter Felicia Phillips, sophomore distance runners Mikaela Lucki and Rebecca Craddock finished in ninth with a time of 11:30.01. The men’s relay team consisted of senior sprinter Joe Haight, Reiser and Davis. They placed third with a time of 9:29.1 and ninth in the FloTrack distance medley relay standings, also besting the previous school record of 9:29.40.

Senior middle distance runner Konrad Eiring also finished ninth in the 800-meter run with a time of 1:50.99, setting a new personal record for the event. 

Illinois heads to Michigan for the Big Ten meet

This coming weekend, the Illini travel to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to compete at the Big Ten meet. Teams featured in the men’s meet include No. 8  Wisconsin, No. 11 Indiana and No. 22 Iowa, as ranked by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.

Illinois has already competed against Nebraska and Iowa at meets this season, and Davis ran his second sub-four minute mile at the Iowa meet. His time is currently ranked 10th; Wisconsin’s Hoare currently has the fastest time in the mile. Reiser is ranked No. 49 in the mile. Davis also holds the 64th-best time in the 3,000-meter run at 8:03.84.

Other Illini heading into the meet ranked include senior sprinter Devin Quinn, who’s ranked No. 13 in the 200-meter dash and No. 19 in the 60-meter dash.

On the women’s side, the Illini are set to compete against No. 8 Penn State, No. 10 Ohio State, No. 12 Wisconsin and No. 15 Iowa. The Illini ran against the Hawkeyes earlier this season in Iowa City, Iowa.

Senior long jumper Briana Driver enters the meet ranked No. 55 in the long jump and junior sprinter Chisom Nwoko is ranked No. 32 in the 400-meter dash.

Penn State’s Danae Rivers is currently ranked first in the mile and Wisconsin’s Alicia Monson is ranked first in the 3,000-meter run.

With many strong performances across the Big Ten this season, the meet should be among the most competitive for the Illini this season.

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