Illinois looks to build off solid Florida outing at second Big Ten Invitational


Mark Capapas

An Illinois distance runner is lined up on the starting line at the Illini B1G Multi-Meet Jan 30. The Illinois track & field team will travel to Bloomington, Indiana, for the second Big Ten Invitational this weekend.

By Andre Thomas, Staff Writer

The Illini will be on the road once again this weekend, as they travel back to Bloomington, Indiana for the second Big Ten Invitational, hosted by the Indiana Hoosiers. This weekend from April 9-11, Illinois sets its eyes on taking first place in yet another conference rival’s home.

The 4×400-meter relay team finished in third place in last week’s North Florida Invitational, which means Aman Thornton, Kashief King, Robert Williams and Jason Thormo will all look to improve and strive for first place finishes this weekend.

Team members have been pushing themselves beyond their limits all season long, breaking personal records and winning multiple events, all while competing at a high level.

Both the men’s and women’s squads have won their fair share of events since the season started in January, with sophomore Olivia Howell giving each competition her best effort. From four event wins, breaking program records and anchoring a second-place win with the 4×800-meter relay team this past weekend, the sophomore sensation is sending a message to all her competitors.

With the return of senior Jonathan Wells last weekend, the men’s track team was able to witness him obtain two first-place finishes in both the high jump and the long jump. The six-time All-American has not participated in an outdoor event since the 2019 season, which means this past weekend was special for him.

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In last year’s visit to Bloomington,  the Illini had several top 10 performances from their men’s and women’s teams. In 2020, redshirt sophomore Rebecca Craddock finished fifth place in the women’s 3K with a time of 9:29.46, beating her personal best while setting the fifth-fastest indoor 3K time in program history.

Last year, the coronavirus pandemic canceled most of the track & field season, leaving players without the ability to show what they spent the entire offseason working on. With the season returning to the normal schedule, the Illini look to set the tone for all indoor and outdoor events with a good outing this weekend.