Jonathan Wells dominates jumping events at Music City Challenge in Nashville


photo courtesy of Illini Athletics

Senior Jonathan Wells clears the bar in high jump Friday. The team will head to Southbend, Indiana, to compete in the Alex Wilson Invitational at Notre Dame on Saturday.

By Savaughn Anderson, Staff Writer

The Illini men’s track and field team traveled to Nashville Friday and Saturday to compete in the Music City Challenge hosted by Vanderbilt.   

The Music City Challenge took place at Vanderbilt’s Multipurpose Facility. The challenge was split up in two days with the Illini starting strong the first day with a performance from redshirt senior Jonathan Wells leading the squad.

Wells won both the high jump and the long jump event for the Illini with distances of 2.18-meters and 7.66-meters, respectively. Coming off back-to-back event titles in Nashville, this marks the second consecutive meet where Wells has won both events. Wells tied his season-best with his win in the long jump while also clearing his season’s best in the high jump.   

Redshirt junior Cooper Jazo also had a notable performance for the Illini, placing second in the pole vault. Jazo had also earned a new personal best by clearing 5.20 meters.   

The Illini also earned two top 10 finishes on the first day of the invitational. Sophomore Declan Rutsay placed fifth in the 200-meter dash with a time of 21.72 seconds and junior Jason Shannon finished eighth clocking in at 21.80 seconds.  

Colin Yandel closed out the invitational for the Illini in the men’s 5K race. Yandel finished in 10th place with a time of 14:47.00 to wrap the first day of the Music City Challenge.  

The second day of the challenge started in the 60-meter hurdles where five Illini athletes placed. Leading the way for the Illini was sophomore Bret Dannis who placed second with a time of 7.97 seconds. Wells came in 10th clocking in at 8.30 seconds. Freshmen Robert Williams, Aiden Ouimet and Alex Babbington all clocked in less than 10 minutes to finish for the Illini.   

Four Illini athletes clocked in the 60-meter dash with sophomore Declan Rutsay leading the Illini with a time of 6.95 seconds. Junior Jason Shannon and Dannis, both placed 10th and 13th, clocking in at 6.96 and 6.97, respectively. Sophomore Connor Artman came in 32nd with a time of 7.50 seconds to wrap up competition for the Illini.  

Junior Thomas Saggau and sophomore Reed Marshall, placed eighth and 10th for the Illini in the triple jump. Saggau placed at a mark of 14.37-meter with Marshall at 13.92-meters.  

In the shot put redshirt freshman William Rezny, lead the way for the Illini placing in at 15th with a distance of 16.11-meters. Redshirt freshman Billy Matzek and redshirt sophomore Vince Shields came in 16th and 21st, respectively. Matzek stood at 16.05-meter with Shields at 15.23-meter.   

Freshman Ed Siuda was the only Illini athlete to compete in the one-mile run. Siuda finished 15th at a time of 4:16.35.   

Freshmen Jason Thormo, Alex Babbington and Mason Barr all competed in the 400-meter dash. Thormo leads the way for the Illini freshman in seventh place at a time of 48.20 seconds. Redshirt freshman Kashief King also participated in the 400-meter dash as well. King, Babbington and Barr all finished within 50 seconds with Babbington at 22nd, King 23rd and Barr in 24th.  

Sophomore Phil Hall and freshmen Will O’Brien and Grant Jensen competed in the 800-meter run with Hall on Friday, leading the way with a time of 1:54.43. O’Brien and Jensen came in 16th and 27th with times of 155.03 and 1:58.76.  

In the 3000-meter run, redshirt junior Jonathan Davis came 14th for the Illini at 8:19.43 with redshirt sophomore Irwin Loud in 19th at 8:23.09 and freshman Logan Hall in 38th with a time of 8:42.37.  

The last event for the Men’s Music City Challenge was the 4×400-meter relay. Illinois placed third in heat one clocking in at 3:18.11. Illinois’ field consisted of redshirt freshmen Kashief King, Logan Hall, freshmen Aiden Ouimet and Mason Barr.  

The next destination for Illinois is South Bend, Indiana, where the men’s team will compete in the Alex Wilson Invitational at Notre Dame on Saturday.


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