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Illinois women’s track and field win five events in loss to UCF

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Illinois women’s track and field win five events in loss to UCF

Illinois' Pedrya Seymour leaps over a hurdle during the Orange and Blue meet on Saturday, February 20, 2016. Pedrya won the 60 meter hurdles with a time of 8.27 seconds.

Illinois' Pedrya Seymour leaps over a hurdle during the Orange and Blue meet on Saturday, February 20, 2016. Pedrya won the 60 meter hurdles with a time of 8.27 seconds.

Austin Yattoni

Illinois' Pedrya Seymour leaps over a hurdle during the Orange and Blue meet on Saturday, February 20, 2016. Pedrya won the 60 meter hurdles with a time of 8.27 seconds.

Austin Yattoni

Austin Yattoni

Illinois' Pedrya Seymour leaps over a hurdle during the Orange and Blue meet on Saturday, February 20, 2016. Pedrya won the 60 meter hurdles with a time of 8.27 seconds.

By Jacob Diaz, Staff writer

Illinois’ top runners brought their best effort for the Illinois women’s track and field team this weekend and claimed five event titles. However, this not enough for Illinois who fell to University of Central Florida in a dual meet, 158-326.

In spite of the loss, the team continued to show improvement, and sophomore hurdler Pedrya Seymourag looked strong in her first meet since the indoor season. Seymour, who last ran as a member of the Bahamian national team at theag International Association of Athletics Federations World Indoor Championships last month, was given a long rest period so that she could recover from her extended indoor season.

She did not look rusty at all in her return, and her time of 13.5 seconds in the 100-meter hurdles won the event.

Seymour’s return bolsters an already successful hurdles team that includes freshman Jayla Stewart agand junior Kortni Smyers-Jones, who have both been excellent in the outdoor season for the Illini. Stewart was given this race off, but Smyers-Jones finished in second behind Seymour with a time of 13.96 seconds.

Smyers-Jones also impressed in the triple jump, where she dominated her competition by jumping 11.85 meters.ag Her nearest competition was UCF’s Briana Potter, agwho only managed to jump 11.43 meters.ag Central Florida got more points from the event because Smyers-Jones was the only Illini in the competition, and UCF claimed second and third.

Junior Kandie Bloch-Jonesag continued her strong return campaign, winning the high jump for the second week in a row after taking time off to recover from the indoor season. The Argenta, Illinois native cleared 1.76 meters, agand she was the only jumper to even attempt a jump at that height.

In the pole vault event, Illinois dominated behind the efforts of sophomore Sara McKeemanag and senior Jennifer DeBellis, agwho took home first and second, respectively. McKeeman cleared four meters on her third attempt to win the title,ag and Debellis was unable to clear four meters, missing all three attempts. The four-meter mark is a new personal best for McKeeman.

The 4×100-meter relay team continued to perform at a high level, finishing with a new season best mark of 45.30 seconds,ag but it was not enough to beat out UCF’s team. UCF finished in 44.97 seconds.

The Illinois relay team has shown steady improvement throughout the season and has not finished lower than third at any meet.

The Illini achieved another event win from sophomore Valerie Bobart, who ran uncontested in the 3000-meter steeplechase but still set a season best.ag Bobart won the same event three weeks ago at the Baldy Castillo Invite hosted by Arizona State with a time of 10:48.20, which was well below her nearest competitor. This weekend she brought her time down to 10:42.42 despite the fact that she had already won by default.

Illinois will have its first and only week off of the outdoor season this week. The team will get right back to work the following weekend, when it hosts the annual Illinois Twilight meet, which will begin the final stretch of the season before the Big Ten Championships early in May.

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@Jacob_Diaz31

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