Illinois track & field ‘taking advantage of the warmer weather,’ sets its sights on event titles at competitive Mt. Sac Relays


James Hoeck

Senior distance runner Michael Madiol runs during the Illini Classic on Saturday. The Illini heads to California for the Mt. Sac Relays on from Thursday to Saturday.

By Ben Fader, Staff Writer

Illinois track & field are going back to California this weekend for the Mt. Sac Relays, a three-day meet in Walnut, California.

A weekend in the mid-70s is something Illinois competitors loved just a few weeks ago. The Illini are headed to the projected nice California weather to be met with a crowded field of competition.

Participating teams include Abilene Christian, Air Force, Akron, Alabama, Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Boise State, Bradley, BYU, California, Colorado, DePaul, Houston, Idaho, Iowa, Iowa State, Michigan, Minnesota, Mt. Sac, North Texas, Oregon, USF, Stanford, Texas, Texas Tech, UCLA, USC, Utah and Wyoming, plus many other smaller schools and unattached athletes.

The meet will have a collegiate portion and a high school portion, with both levels interchanging during the days of the invitational.

This will be the most competitive regular season invitational for the Illini, as ten ranked men’s and women’s programs will be racing in the meet, according to the week three USTFCCCA top 25 poll.

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The Illini are prepared to put up a fight, bringing some of their top athletes who have been racking up event titles over the last couple of weeks. One Illini on this list is freshman DeVontae Ford, who has entered the outdoor season with momentum, looking especially strong for an underclassman.

“I’m looking forward to this weekend and taking advantage of the warmer weather,” Ford said.

Ford is following up a runner-up performance in the 400-meter dash last weekend which is impressive for an athlete only running the race for his fourth time. For an underclassman, Ford continues to prove his worth to the team and wants to keep building upon his success.

“I think I’ve seen an energy change with the team recently and I think a lot of people are going to step up here,” Ford said of the Mt. Sac Relays. “A lot of people you don’t expect to score are going to step up and score for the team and I think especially next year we can be really good.”

For now, Ford and the traveling Illini will look to their events this weekend and prepare for the fast-approaching postseason.

Thursday’s events will begin with the decathlon 110-meter hurdles at 1 p.m. and will wrap up around 12:30 a.m.  

Friday kicks off with field events, as the hammer throw will take place at noon, and the day will end with the 5000-meter run at 12:35 a.m.

The final day of competition starts at noon with the women’s hammer throw final, and the collegiate portion of the meet will cap off Saturday afternoon with the 100-meter dash at 3:40 p.m.             

With the steep competition, the Illini will get great experience this weekend, preparing them well for the postseason Big Ten Championships and beyond.

Live results during the meet will be updated at, where you can see all placements. After California, the Illini will return home for the second and final home meet of the calendar year. The Illini Invitational will once again take place at Demirjian Park on Saturday, April 23.



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