Illini track & field season kicks off at Ole Miss Classic


Photo courtesy of Craig Pessman/Illinois Athletics

Junior Aiden Ouimet successfully goes over during his pole vault event during the Illini Invitational on Jan. 25, 2020. By not partaking in the NCAA Championships, Ouimet and the other athletes made time to prepare for the beginning of the outdoor track and field season.

By Ben Fader, Staff Writer

On Friday, the Illini travel down to Oxford, Mississippi, for the Ole Miss Classic at the Ole Miss Track & Field Complex.

Ole Miss is the only team participating this weekend that finished the season ranked in the top-25, finishing No. 6 for the women and No. 10 for the men.

The Illini made the final indoor USTFCCCA top-60 rankings, with the women coming in at No. 36 and the men No. 38.

Other teams participating in the Ole Miss Classic are Alabama-Huntsville, Arkansas State, Belmont, Christian Brothers, Indiana State, Little Rock, Memphis, Missouri, Rhodes, Southeast Missouri, Tennessee State, Vanderbilt and Western Kentucky.

Other than junior Olivia Howell, junior Tyler Sudduth, and graduate student Jon Davis, who competed at the NCAA indoor championship, the rest of the Illini have had a month off from competition and are well rested for the Classic.

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The men’s and women’s hammer throws will take place on Friday at 1 p.m. The rest of the meet will be held on Saturday, with men’s javelin kicking off the field events beginning at 9 a.m. and the running events starting at 1 p.m. with the women’s steeplechase.

The Illini are ready for the outdoor season to officially begin.

“There is just so much more energy around it,” said junior Aiden Ouimet. “Everyone is excited to be there and competing outdoor.”

Ouimet and the other Illini who did not participate in the NCAA Championships in Birmingham, Alabama, have been practicing for the past month.

“I’ve done a lot of prep work, mostly cleaning up technically at a couple of events,” Ouimet said. “I’d say that I ended the indoor season pretty confident and saw improvement, but I left a lot out there. I just want to get out there and do the best that I can do.”

Ouimet shares his teammates’ excitement, but acknowledges the difficulties of competing in an outdoor environment.

“It might not seem like a lot, but if you’re running a distance event and you’ve got pretty strong headwind on the backstretch, that can really affect your race,” Ouimet said.

Of course, running events aren’t the only thing Ouimet competes in, making the wind and conditions impact his throws and jumps just as much as distance running.

Nevertheless, the Illini are poised to continue their progress made in the indoor season with their three All-Americans leading the way in Oxford.

Live results from the meet can be found here and @IlliniTrackXC on Twitter to follow your Illini in their first meet of the new season.



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