Illinois uses success at Auburn to prepare for Drake Relays

By Claire O'Brien, Staff Writer

The Illinois track and field team had a strong showing in distance events at the Auburn War Eagle Invitational this past Friday and Saturday.

In the men’s 5,000-meter run, the Illini had three top-five finishes in the race. Senior Dan Lathrop finished second with a time of 14:23.28, sophomore Irwin Loud finished in third, and senior Billy Magnesen finished fifth.

“We all knew what the expectation was and what we wanted to run,” Lathrop said. “What we really wanted to do was work together and make it so that it wasn’t all the effort and strain on one person.”

In the women’s 1,500-meter run invite, sophomore Mikaela Lucki won the event with a time of 4:29.60. Freshman Emma Milburn finished close behind, taking third place with a time of 4:31.65.

In the 3,000-meter steeplechase, sophomore Nicki Cast finished third with a time of 10:34.55. In the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase, redshirt-senior Jesse Reiser finished in second with a time of 9:00.45. Cast set a new personal record, as her previous personal best was 10:45.72, set at Texas A&M two weeks ago.

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In the relays, the Illini didn’t sweep the 4×100-meter relays, as they have done at some events this season. The women’s relay team finished in third, and the men’s relay team did not finish.

In the 1500-meter run, the Illini took the top three spots on the women’s side. Sophomore Allison McGrath won the event with a time of 4:34.54, and sophomore distance runner Caroline Fix and freshman Shanice Garbutt finished within five seconds of McGrath to finish second and third, respectively.

“It was really good teamwork between the three of us, and we all owned a part of the race,” McGrath said. “We definitely try to work together throughout races as much as we can.”

Senior sprinter Devin Quinn won the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.19 seconds, and sophomore sprinter Jason Shannon finished in tenth. Quinn also finished in second in the 200-meter dash and is currently ranked fourth in the NCAA in the event.

In the field, freshman high jumper Katie Mans finished in a four-way tie for third. Sophomore high jumper Ololade Ayoola finished in eighth in the event. Junior pole vaulter Jacob LaRocca finished in fifth in the event.

The women’s 4×400-meter relay team won their event and helped close out the meet for the Illini.

Head coach Michael Turk thought Auburn’s newer facilities offered a glimpse into what the newly-planned Demirjian Park will be like for the Illini. Along with the facilities, Turk thought the Illini ran well despite cooler-than-expected temperatures.

“I think we handled a little bit of adversity with the weather not being great,” Turk said. “I felt like we responded really well with our performances and our focus, and I think that was the foundation, and it was really led by several of our upperclassmen.”

Up next, Illinois will head to Iowa for the Drake Relays this weekend. The meet is one of the most prominent in the Midwest and includes a high school meet, a collegiate meet and road races for the general public. Illinois has garnered podium performances in the past, and Turk recently was inducted into the Drake Relays Hall of Fame.


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