Illini finish indoor season before outdoor season canceled
March 21, 2020
The Illinois men’s track team competed at the Big Ten Indoor Championships to wrap up its indoor season just before the conference canceled all spring sports. The Illini were just three weeks from their first outdoor meet, the Willie Williams Classic in Tucson, Arizona, which was set to take place on Friday and Saturday.
Illinois placed 10th in the Big Ten Indoor Championships as five Illini scored points in the finals. The 4x400m relay consisting of freshmen Jason Thormo and Robert Williams along with sophomores Declan Rustay and Jaden Jackson placed fifth. Sophomore Bret Dannis finished eighth in the 60m hurdles while junior Thomas Saggau placed seventh in triple jump. Redshirt senior Jonathan Wells took home the Big Ten title in long jump earning All-Big Ten First Team honors. Wells also placed fifth in the high jump competition.
The Illini were set to compete in eight outdoor meets this season, including the Big Ten Outdoor Championships. While the team was unable to start the outdoor season, the Illini competed in six indoor meets this year.
Illinois started the season at Iowa for the Larry Wieczorek Invite on Jan. 17 and 18. While the Illini finished last at the meet, several had successful individual outings. Wells and Dannis qualified for the final round of the 60m hurdles race, placing seventh and fifth, respectively. Rustay completed in the 60m finals and placed fifth. Rustay ran a 6.85 to qualify for the finals which was a personal-best.
The Illini hosted their only home meet of the season, the Illini Invitational, on Jan. 25. The team won seven events at the invitational. Rustay was a large part of the Illini’s success as he won the 60m and 200m dash and was the anchored for the first-place 4x400m relay. Wells won the high jump competition while redshirt junior Cooper Jazo won the pole vault competition with a personal-record of 5.16 meters. Thormo won the 400m dash and ran the third leg of the 4×400; Jackson and Williams were the first two legs. Freshman Aiden Ouimet won the heptathlon.
Indiana Relays came next for the Illini on Feb. 1. The Illini saw limited success in the meet but had a few top-1o finishes. Pole vaulters redshirt senior Jacob LaRocca and Jazo placed fifth and eighth, respectively. Redshirt sophomore Irwin Loud placed fourth in the seeded mile with a personal-best 4:14.08.
Wells led the Illini at the Frank Sevigne Husker Invitational on Feb. 8 by winning the long jump and high jump competitions. Thormo placed fourth in the 400m race, Rustay placed 10th in the 200m and junior Jason Shannon placed 13th in the 200m. Thormo, Rustay, Williams and Jackson placed second in the 4x400m race with a season-best time of 3:13.56.
The Illini competed at Vanderbilt’s Music City Challenge on Feb. 15 and saw a few top-10 finishes. Dannis timed a personal-best of 7.97 in the 60m hurdles and placed second. The usual 4x400m relay took second. Rustay and Shannon placed ninth and tenth, respectively, in the 60m dash.
In the last regular season meet, the Alex Wilson Invitational on Feb. 22, three Illini placed in the top-10 of the mile. Redshirt junior Jon Davis placed first, redshirt freshman Colin Yandel took sixth and redshirt freshman Logan Hall finished ninth. Jazo won the pole vault event and LaRocca placed second. Freshman Alexander Babbington took second in the high jump.