Illinois track & field gears up for Bryan Clay Invitational

By Said Nonoal, Contributing Writer

After a strong performance at the Illini Challenge Meet here at home, the men’s and women’s track and field teams are heading to Azusa Pacific University in southern California to face a number of Division I rivals from across the country.

Illinois will face Big Ten rivals, including Michigan and Wisconsin. They will also have to face some of the toughest competition in the country. The men will have to take on No. 2 BYU and No. 7 Alabama.

The Clay Invitational will have an emphasis on middle-distance and long-distance events, as the programs competing will include some of the best middle and distance runners in all of the NCAA. One of the top competitors at the meet will be Victor Kiprop, a sophomore from Alabama who earned 2022 outdoor freshman all-SEC honors last season.

BYU and Alabama have a lot of talent for the sprints, including Alabama’s 100-meter star, Tarsis Ogorot, who is No. 6 in the country in the 100 meters. Fortunately, the Illini will have junior King Kashief competing in the sprints after coming off a strong outing at the Illini Challenge meet where he came in first among the Illini for the 100-meter dash.

The Illini have senior Colin Yandel, who holds a time of 3:47 in the 1500 meters, one of the Illini’s best distance runners. Yandel, however, is not the only strong distance runner on the squad for the Illini packed with experience. Runners such as juniors Tyler Cushing, Jack Roberts and Will O’Brien lead the way for freshmen Alex Partlow and Brady Masters who look to be part of the future core of the Illini distance squad.

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In the 800 meters, Tadeas Placek will have to face a pair of twins in Cole Johnson and Henry Johnson from Michigan. The Johnsons would be projected to beat all the Illini 800-meter runners, however, the margin for error is small and the Illini will have to duel out most of Michigan’s 800-meter squad.

The 5000-meter race will be a difficult one as Wisconsin has Jack Meijer, who holds a 13:51 time, while the Illini’s very own junior Jack Roberts ran a 14:21 on March 24. The Illini, however, can make up for the competition with the field events as sophomore Tyler Sudduth will be able to showcase his talents in most of the throwing events, as he and the rest of the throwers will face tough NCAA competition.

The meet will run through all of Wednesday and Thursday. The Illini will look to rack up some points and climb their way through the rankings. Illinois is currently ranked No. 10 in the Midwest division and are behind three Big Ten rivals, Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota, which are all in the top three in the Midwest division.



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