Illinois women’s track have strong performance in Notre Dame Meyo Invite

By Alex Wallner

The Illinois women’s track and field team’s trip to South Bend, Indiana, for the annual Notre Dame Meyo Invitational was a successful one: the Illini captured a win in one event and eight top-10 finishes.

Alyssa Schneider grabbed one of those top-10 finishes.

In the mile, Schneider’s fourth place finish of 4 minutes, 42 seconds moved her up to fifth place on Illinois’ all-time list for the event.

“Overall, I was happy with my performance,” Schneider said. “I wanted to run a (personal record) and to race smart and I think I did both of those things today. It was the best competition I’ve faced in the mile so far this season, which helped me run a better race. I felt like this was the first race this season that I really saw my training coming together, and I want to carry on that momentum.”

Shannon Osika and Brook Handler of No. 21 Michigan and Danielle Aragon of host Notre Dame finished ahead of Schneider.

Senior Stephanie Richartz also had another strong showing, winning her second pole vault event in three appearances, clearing 4.26 meters to take the win. Junior Jennifer DeBellis cleared 3.91 meters in the event, good enough to tie for fifth.

“It’s satisfying and encouraging to jump at what would be a personal best,” Richartz said. “That only makes me look forward to the next competition more. Not to mention, it also boosts my confidence for the upcoming Big Ten and national meets.”

The Meyo Invitational also marked the beginning of team events, as the Illini participated in their first distance medley relay.

The foursome of freshman Denise Branch, sophomores Samone Thompson and Lindsey Rakosnik and junior Britten Petrey led the Illini to a third-place finish in the 13-team event, only to fall short to Marquette and Toledo.

Petrey believes she saw positive results, despite the team not getting a win.

“This was a good step in the right direction and can only help us prepare for Big Ten’s,” Petrey said. “It was an exciting experience to be able to run the race, since I have not ran one since freshman year of high school. I have a lot of confidence for the rest of the season that we will work just as hard if not harder to be a top-ranked team come Big Tens.”

The Meyo Invitational marked the beginning of the lead-up to the Indoor Big Ten Championships, which begin Feb. 27.

It is also the tournament that Richartz has had circled on her calendar for some time now.

“The Big Ten Championship meet is all about who performs on that day,” Richartz said. “Every meet has a different level of pressure, but for me it all is in preparation for that day. I love to compete and I thrive in high-pressure situations, so I am going to be prepared for whatever challenges come my way.”

Alex can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @AWallner93.