Illinois men’s track & field shows out at Illini Challenge meet against Midwest rivals


Candice Zhou

Graduate Student Bret Dannis sprints while performing in a relay race on Saturday. The Illini faced off against a variety of teams during their Illini Challenge meet on Saturday.

By Said Nonoal, Contributing Writer

On Saturday, the Illinois men’s track and field squad made their home outdoor debut at Demirjian Park which hosted the Fighting Illini Challenge meet, a meet which included a number of Big Ten rivals and Midwest division rivals.

For the men, the meet began with the 100-meter dash, in which juniors Kashief King and Jason Thormo made their debuts for the 100 meters, finishing fifth and seventh. Both were able to put up points on the board for the Illini, as both King and Thormo continued to impress early on in the outdoor season.

Senior Bret Dannis took on the 110-meter hurdles finishing first with a 13.80-second finish. Senior Robert Williams was also able to contribute points to the Illini, as he came in fourth with a 14.50-second finish.

In throwing, the Illini were able to dominate as junior star Tyler Sudduth competed at a high level earning first place in the discus throw, third place in the hammer throw and first place in the shot put.

Sudduth was not the only big-time contributor for the Illini. Sophomore Hunter Hendershot and senior William Rezny came in third and fourth place respectively for the shot put. Junior Bryan Keyes finished fourth in the hammer throw, despite having his final attempt disqualified for a foul. Junior Micheal Shafis was able to dominate in the javelin throw as he finished in first place by a wide margin.

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The Illini dominated in the long jump and high jump events. The team had four competitors finish in the top six, racking up plenty of points for the Illini. Senior Alex Babbington and sophomore CJ Shoaf took first and second place in high jump beating out multiple Eastern Illinois rivals.

Notably, the Illini’s 4×400-meter relay squad took first place finishing with an impressive 3:06.87, nearly an entire 10 seconds ahead of second-place Northern Iowa’s squad. The 4×4 squad was made up of big-time contributors such as Placek, Thormo and King.

On the track, when Illinois was not performing up to its rivals, both Northern Iowa and Iowa dominated the track events taking multiple top five finishes in the 200 meters and the 400 meters.

In middle distance and long distance, freshman Tadeas Placek took second place with a 1:51.05. Placek had taken first place for most of the race however, ultimately being overtaken by Northern Iowa’s Chase Knoche.

In the 5000-meter run, freshmen Alex Partlow and Brady Masters stood out as they were able to beat out their fellow teammates with a ninth and 13th place finish. Distance coach Sarah Haverman attributed Master’s strong performances to strong training and being strong adaptors to the collegiate adjustments and trust in the coaching staff as well as his teammates.

Senior Colin Yandel finished the 1500 meters with a 3:47.32 finish, culminating in a second place finish.

“What’s awesome about that (Yandel’s performance) is that, we breath and preach a lot of athletic development and being athletic and Colin is truly a 10k guy,” Haverman said. “To come in here and run 1500 meters hard and race the way he did is really promising his sweet spot of events in the 5k and 10k.”

Haverman expressed satisfaction for the early season success from the long distance runners, particularly from the freshman. As they approach the next meets the Illini will need to continue the consistency in all facets of their squad.

“I really like what I’m seeing in the primary events and I think anytime you’re racing well in events which aren’t your primary events,” Haverman said. “You feel really good about that.”



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