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Lafond and Wells compete in national championship

Illinois%27+Dylan+Lafond+competes+in+the+3000+meter+run+during+the+Orange+and+Blue+meet+on+Saturday%2C+February+20%2C+2016.
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Lafond and Wells compete in national championship

Illinois' Dylan Lafond competes in the 3000 meter run during the Orange and Blue meet on Saturday, February 20, 2016.

Illinois' Dylan Lafond competes in the 3000 meter run during the Orange and Blue meet on Saturday, February 20, 2016.

Austin Yattoni

Illinois' Dylan Lafond competes in the 3000 meter run during the Orange and Blue meet on Saturday, February 20, 2016.

Austin Yattoni

Austin Yattoni

Illinois' Dylan Lafond competes in the 3000 meter run during the Orange and Blue meet on Saturday, February 20, 2016.

By Will Most

After leading the way for Illinois men’s track and field most of the season, sophomore Jonathan Wells and junior Dylan Lafond are looking to succeed as individuals this weekend.ch

The two will head to Birmingham, Alabama, to compete in the men’s NCAA Indoor Championships.ch

Lafond, one of the leaders of Illinois’ distance unit, will compete in the 5,000 meters. chWhile Wells, despite competing in three events at the Big Ten Championships, will only compete in his best event: high jump.ch

Wells and Lafond qualified for each of their events by placing in the top 16 in the nation at the conference championships. Both Illini have experience at national championships and are confident that experience will pay off.

“I’m looking forward to going in there and being a little experienced, knowing what I did last year,” Wells said. “This year I know I’m bigger and I’m better and I’m looking to fix the mistakes I made last year and put it in this year.”

While the Illini’s indoor season wasn’t much of a success, national competitions offer an opportunity for team standouts to prove that they are among the nation’s best at their respective events.

As the rest of the team prepares for the outdoor season, Lafond and Wells are preparing for a competition where they are underdogs.

Wells is the 13th best jumper in the nation after his Big Ten performance and Lafond is 14th in the 5,000. Despite the fact he isn’t the favorite, Wells is confident.ch

“There is no certain person in my mind I’m trying to beat,” Wells said. “I’m just there to compete at my ability and go out there and do the best I can do.”

While the two will face elite competition, head coach Mike Turk suggests that there is wiggle room for Wells and Lafond to place just outside of the nation’s top competitors.

“Usually at the NCAA meet, there is a much clearer picture, with six or seven people on a higher level and then it slopes down,” Turk said. “This year there are only two or three people on the level and everyone else is real close.”

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@Will_Most

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