Illinois track & field wraps up 2022 regular season at Drake Relays


Photo Courtesy of illini athletics

Senior Declan Rustay (middle left) poses with former Illini Jason Shannon (far left), Joe Haight (middle right) and Devin Quinn (far right) after winning a race at the 2019 Drake Relays.

By Ben Fader, Staff Writer

The Illinois track & field team was in Des Moines, Iowa for their final meet of the regular season: the Drake Relays.

The 4×1600 meter relay was the first event of the day for the Illini, where redshirt-senior Rebecca Craddock, freshman Halle Hill, junior Tracy Towns and grad student Allison McGrath placed third in the race.

Senior Bret Dannis followed by qualifying for the men’s 110-meter hurdles which took place Saturday afternoon.

Junior Jessica McDowell earned another third-place finish for the Illini in the women’s 400m with a time of 54.24.

The first event title of the weekend for the Illini was no surprise as junior Olivia Howell continued her successful year. Howell won the women’s 1500m with a blistering time of 4:15, which should give her all the momentum she needs heading into the postseason.

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The day’s final event for the Illini was the men’s 4x200m relay, where freshman Dacorey Ware, sophomore Keegan Anderson, junior Aiden Ouimet and senior Declan Rustay placed fourth at a time of 1:26.

Day two was a full slate of events for the team, starting with a silver medal in the men’s 4x110m hurdles. The four-person team of freshman DeVontae Ford, junior Robert Jackson, and seniors Bret Danis and Jaden Jackson finished in 57.77 seconds for the second-place finish.

On Saturday, Dannis placed seventh in the 110m hurdles finals, clocking in at 14.44 in his final regular-season race.

The next event for the Illini was the women’s distance relay raced by freshman Sam Poglitsch, juniors Howell and Jessica McDowell and senior Emma Milburn. The relay team placed fourth with a time of 11:23, one spot better than the men’s sprint team in the following event.

Freshman DaCorey Ware and William Merrick, redshirt-junior Kashief King, and Rustay placed fifth in the men’s sprint relay with a solid time of 3:21.

“We had some good performances this weekend from the distance, sprints, and jumps teams,” said Rustay. “It was nice to see even with the weather being bad.”

Rustay loved the confidence he has seen from the Illini recently and believes they are ready to compete at their best in the postseason.

The Illini have a two-week break before the Big Ten Championships in Minneapolis, MN, on May 13-15. They haven’t had a layoff this long since the beginning of the season, so preparation will be important.

“This week will be a little bit heavier on training before we get some rest this weekend and take it a little easier next week,” says Rustay. “Every weekend, we see more PRs (personal records) and improvement, and it’s going to come at the Big Tens too.”


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