Illinois track & field records second-place finish at Illini Invitational


Cameron Krasucki

Illinois track and field Kenli Nettles runs during the 60 meter hurdles for the Illini Invitational on Jan. 21. Nettles wins the Pentathlon and overall the Illini places second for the meet.

By Ben Fader, Contributing Writer

The Illini track & field team has put together an impressive start to the 2022 season, most recently in the Illini Invitational.

Hosting Illinois State, Illinois-Chicago, Chicago State, Wisconsin and the Northern Illinois (women), the Illini took 18 event titles and placed second narrowly behind Illinois State in both men’s and women’s competition by a combined six points.

“I don’t think what we saw on paper really reflected what we did at the meet, and I am really proud of them,” said head coach Mike Turk following the invitational. “Starting with Kenli Nettles in the pentathlon and Aiden Ouimet had great performances for us today.”

Nettles has been affected by injuries in her first two years at Illinois but competed in the pentathlon on the first day of the meet. She scored 3,126 points in the hurdles, high jump, shot put, long jump and the 800m, leading to a victorious start to the weekend for the Illini.

Ouimet beat his previous best in the pole vault with a 4.8m vault on his way to taking the heptathlon crown, racking up 5,297 points.

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“Tacoria Humphrey also had probably one of our best performances of the day when you compare it to the national scale,” Turk said.

Humphrey made an early impact, placing second in the high jump with a jump of 1.75 m. The early success is not surprising, as the freshman was a state champion in high school and has carried her skills over to the college level.

Humphrey is not the only underclassman performing, Turk says.

“A lot of our young kids are showing that they are hungry and ready to go out there and compete,” Turk said. “We can’t control what other teams do. There are a lot of great athletes and coaches that are all working really hard right now.”

One athlete for the Illini who is getting rewarded for their work is an upperclassman, senior Reed Marshall.

Marshall showed improvement throughout the 2021 outdoor season but now thinks his body feels the best it has since he arrived in Illinois.

“I’m just being more mobile now, getting into the weight room to get stronger and fine-tuning some things have helped me improve in this new season,” Reed said.

Marshall’s improvement has carried over to this season, and although he “wasn’t jumping as far as (he) was hoping to,” he was able to secure his first collegiate win.

“More than anything, I was just happy to get the team points, which is what matters most.”

Finishing with a jump of 13.94m, he placed first in the triple jump event and got 10 points for the Illini.

The Illini will not host another meet until Feb. 18 for the Illini Classic. Next up, they will head to the PNC Lenny Lyles Invitational on Jan. 29, hosted by the University of Louisville.


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