Three Illini win medals on final day of Big Ten Championships

By Jacob Diaz

Only two Illini women’s track runners qualified for the finals in their events in yesterdays preliminaries, but both juniors Nicole Choquette and sophomore Pedrya Seymour finished the day on the podiumss.

Joining Choquette and Seymour on the podium today was junior high jumper Kandie Bloch-Jones. Bloch-Jones finishes in a three-way tie for first place after clearing 1.81 metersss. She finished second overall behind Purdue’s Janae Moffitt on tie-breakers. 

Despite finishing so highly overall, Bloch-Jones was disappointed in her performance.

“I know I could’ve done better,” she said “I was bummed about not being able to make the next height and taken the gold … I’ll be preparing for Nationals in a few weeks, and I know I’ll need to focus on not missing at lower heights.”

Choquette finished second overall in the 800 meters, and set a personal best time in the event along the way. Her time of two minutes, 5.9 secondsss is not only her best time, but it is the second-best time in school history. Choquette was pleased with her performance, and said she was very excited to take her place among the best Illini athletes ever.

“I try to not go too hard in the first 200 (meters), and just try and stick with the pack and get in a good position to make a move later, and then in the last 200 I try to give it everything I’ve got,” Choquette said.

Choquette followed her game plan in the finals. She stayed near the back of the pack for the first 600 meters, but in the last 200 passed runner after runner until she edged out Michigan’s Danielle Pfieffer by four hundredths of a second. Head coach Ron Garner thought that if the race had lasted a little longer, Choquette could have passed the winner, Michigan’s Devon Hoppe.

“(Choquette) positioned herself really well so that in the final stretch she could really go for the win, but she came up just a little short. She ran out of room; ran out of real estate.” Garner said. “A little bit longer and she would’ve been Big Ten champion.”

Finishing the day for the Illini, Seymour set a personal best in the 60-meter hurdles, finishing in 8.16 secondsss. Her performance made her the third best in the conference and the seventh best in school historyss

She improved by 0.15 seconds from her qualifying time, and finished only behind Purdue’s Devynne Charlton and Michigan’s Cindy Ofili.

“(Seymour) had to overcome a lot of challenges, and injuries, but she’s stuck with it,” Coach Garner said, “She didn’t back down, she ran right with Ofili and Charlton for the first few hurdles.”

While the team finished last in the Big Ten with 22 points, Garner was able to take some positives away from the championships.

“We are a very young team,” he said, “As a team score, I’m disappointed. But as a team that is growing, it is very promising.”

Garner said he hopes that the team will be more comfortable in future races, and will learn from the example set today by some of their teammates. 

Next up for the Illini is the NCAA championships. Bloch-Jones is looking to improve on her mark and prove that she can do better, and she may be joined by her teammate, Seymour.

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