Illinois track & field to host its first outdoor meet of the season


Photo courtesy of Illinois Atheltics

Junior Tyler Sudduth gets his stance ready for his shotput event during the Big Ten Outdoor Championship on May 13. The Illini will be back for their first outdoor home meet for the Illini Classic on Saturday.

By Ben Fader, Staff Writer

After two weekends on the road to start the 2022 outdoor season, Illinois track & field returns home for the Illini Classic on April 8 and 9.

Demirjian Park is hosting the first outdoor track and field meet in over a year on Friday and Saturday on what should be a cold, windy weekend.

Teams participating include Illinois State, University of Illinois at Chicago, Saint Louis, Northern Iowa, DePaul, Loyola, Butler, Northwestern (women only), Purdue and Indiana University — Purdue University Indianapolis.

There are no nationally-ranked, top-25 teams competing in the Illini Classic, but it will still be a good competitive meet early for an Illini squad looking to get better with plenty of regionally ranked squads coming in.

Purdue is ranked No. 3 and IUPUI is No. 23 in the Great Lakes Region while Illinois State is No. 12, Illinois is No. 9, Northern Iowa is No. 19, Saint Louis is No. 26 and Loyola finishes up the Midwest region at No. 28. 

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Purdue is going to be the biggest competitor for the Illini this weekend coming off of strong performances in Gainesville and Cincinnati last weekend.

Led by freshmen Praise Aniamaka and Zamen Siyoum, the Boilermakers managed a couple of top-two finishes in the meets despite steady rain in both locations.

None of their top athletes are in the distance game, which is the strength of the Illini. However, it should still lead to an exciting meet.

With the outdoor season comes the impact of weather conditions, and this weekend likely won’t be perfect running weather by any means, with forecasts showing a high of 39 degrees on Friday and 40 degrees on Saturday. Showers are to be expected throughout the day Friday, not including the added 15-plus mph wind on both days, which could impact the races substantially.

With the temperature and wind, it will be very difficult for personal records to be broken this weekend, but fighting through the conditions will help the Illini for later in the season.

The outdoor season has started with personal bests for many different Illini and redshirt senior Rebecca Craddock even recorded the second-fastest 5000m in program history.

Junior Tyler Sudduth returned to action last week with a solid men’s shot put title at Illinois State, but this weekend all three indoor All-Americans will compete.

Graduate student Jon Davis and junior Olivia Howell return to action after getting a couple of weeks off from competition.

Their legs are sure to be fresh and will look to pick up where they left off the indoor season in dominating fashion.

Following the Classic, the Illini will head back towards warmer weather for the Mt. Sac Relays in Walnut, California, on April 14 – 16.



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