Illinois women’s track faces tough competition at Notre Dame

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Illinois women’s track faces tough competition at Notre Dame

Illinois' Pedra Seymour prepares to jump a hurdle in the Orange and Blue meet at the Armory on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016.

Illinois' Pedra Seymour prepares to jump a hurdle in the Orange and Blue meet at the Armory on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016.

Brian Bauer

Illinois' Pedra Seymour prepares to jump a hurdle in the Orange and Blue meet at the Armory on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016.

Brian Bauer

Brian Bauer

Illinois' Pedra Seymour prepares to jump a hurdle in the Orange and Blue meet at the Armory on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016.

By Chris Kennedy

The Illinois women’s track and field team will face another steep field of competition season this weekend at Notre Dame’s Meyo Invitational.

After facing off against several top-15 teams in its last outing at Kentucky’s Rod McCravy Invitational on Jan. 20 and 21, Illinois will face another highly-ranked lineup in South Bend, Indiana, including No. 9 Notre Dame, No. 12 Michigan and No. 13 Purdue.

The headliner this weekend should be another showdown in the 60-meter hurdles between Illinois’ Pedrya Seymour and Purdue’s Devynne Charlton. The two were teammates on the Bahamas’ Olympic team in the 100m hurdles this summer, where Seymour finished sixth. Charlton didn’t compete due to injury. The Boilermakers are the reigning Big Ten champs in the event, and Seymour took third last year.

“When it comes to competition, she knows how to get herself ready for that level of performance,” associate head coach Randy Gillon said after the McCravy Invite. “She knows what it takes to perform at a high level.”

Charlton is currently No. 2 in the nation in the 60m hurdles, while Seymour is No. 3. The two squared off in Lexington, with Seymour coming out as the top collegian. Her mark of 7.98 seconds was good for the fourth best time in the world. It’s the second-fastest time in the NCAA this year, but Charlton’s 2016 mark gives her the edge in the rankings.

Miami’s Ebony Morrison, No. 11 in the country, will also mix it up with the Big Ten rivals.

High jumper Kandie Bloch-Jones has won the event in every meet she has competed in this year. Her mark last weekend of 1.81 meters is the 10th best in the nation.

Like Seymour, Bloch-Jones is also chasing after the Illinois all-time record books. She’s attempted a school record jump at each of the last two competitions, but hasn’t cleared the bar at 1.86 meters.

“I am extremely proud of her personal fortitude,” head coach Ron Garner said after the McCarvy Invite. “Today showed her will to compete, beating a two-time Big Ten high jump champion, another six-foot jumper, and attempt to jump at a new personal record, school record and a meet record.”

Bloch-Jones will also face-off against a Big Ten champ Boilermaker this weekend. Purdue’s Janae Moffitt is ranked No. 15 in the country and is the reigning Big Ten champ in the high jump indoors; she beat Bloch-Jones out by tiebreaker in the meet.

Last weekend, Bloch-Jones edged Moffitt by 0.3 meters.

Outside of Moffitt, Bloch-Jones could face competition from Eastern Illinois’ Haleigh Knapp, ranked No. 25 in the nation. Knapp is Eastern’s top-ranked track athlete. Last year, Knapp set conference and school records in the high jump while winning both the indoor and outdoor titles in the Ohio Valley.

The Illini also saw a strong performance from long jumper Janile Rogers the last time out. She leapt to a season-best 5.71 meters to take home fifth place for the Illini.

This week, she’ll jump against Purdue’s No. 9 Savannah Carson as well as Louisville’s No. 23 Alexis Gibbons and No. 28 Bre’Yana Wash.