Illinois track & field sets new personal, facility, program records at PNC Lenny Lyles Invitational in Louisville


Photo Courtesy of Illini Athletics

Olivia Howell poses for a photo in front of a banner at the PNC Lenny Lyles Invitational. The team set a multitude of records at the invitational.

By Ben Fader, Contributing Writer

The Illini continued to progress in this indoor season with Saturday’s PNC Lenny Lyles Invitational in Louisville. Another day full of nine event titles, personal records, facility records and a program record from junior Olivia Howell saw Illinois round out another successful weekend.

After being crowned the Big Ten mile champion in the 2021 indoor championships, Howell has continued to progress this season and ran the fastest mile in women’s Illini history with an incredible 4:40 mile.

Howell took the 800m event title later to cap off an excellent day. These were not the only records that Illini women broke on Saturday, as senior Nya Carr broke the facility record at Louisville with a time of 7.57 seconds in the women’s 60m.

Carr attributes some of her success to the recent practice regimen.

“We have been working a lot on the first half of the race, like pushing out of the blocks and competing head-to-head at practice to mimic competition,” Carr said.

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Breaking the facility record is no small feat for Carr, especially after she had already competed in the long jump earlier in the day.

“It can be a lot,” Carr said, “I try to get in treatment from our trainers in between events, but by the end of the day, I am beyond exhausted.”

The Illini 4x400m squad also took home an event title as juniors Robert Williams and Jason Thormo, freshman Devontae Ford and redshirt junior Kashief King have shown excellent chemistry going three for three this season with titles.

Junior Tyler Sudduth (shot put), junior Jessica McDowell (400m), Thormo (400m), senior Emma Wilburn (3000m) and graduate student Jon Davis (800m and mile) all set personal and facility bests to help the Illini.

The ninth event title for the Illini on Saturday was won by senior Bret Dannis, who continued his early-season dominance.

After winning the 60m hurdles in each of the first two meets, Dannis set another personal record on Saturday with a time of 7.91 seconds and yet another first-place finish.

 “It feels good to be making progress and seeing the times drop as the season progresses,” Dannis said. “On our team, we say that winning races is done during the week at practice, and the meets are just the reward.”

Three for three on first-place titles in the event is no small reward, and Dannis’ preparation is a large part of his success.

“Hydrating, eating good meals at team dinner and thinking about a select few goals that I have technique-wise,” Dannis said in terms of his preparation on meet days.

There is plenty to build upon in the first couple of meets for the Illini. Dannis believes “that we have a good opportunity to make some big things happen in Geneva, Ohio,” in the Big Ten Indoor Championships.

The Illini next head to South Bend for the Meyo Invitational at Notre Dame on Feb. 4-5.



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