Illinois racks up several first-place finishes in Bloomington

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Photo Courtesy of Illini Athletics

Graduate student Chisom Nwoko uses a pole to hoist herself over a bar during the pole jump event on a cloudy day. The Illinois track & field team took home multiple first place wins at the second Big Ten Invitational in Bloomington, Indiana yesterday.

By Andre Thomas, Staff Writer

This weekend’s invitational hosted Indiana was a sight to see, as the competitiveness was at an all-time high. Illinois had multiple first-place finishes throughout the tournament, leaving a mark on its second Big Ten Invitational of the year.

“At the end of the day, I am trying to win as much as I can for the school because I want to be a winner and an All-American again,” said graduate student Manning Plater.

Plater competed in the hammer throw, and he recorded a distance of  69.82 meters, setting the record for longest throw in program history while taking the first-place win in the event. The All-American is reaching new heights this year after winning first place in the Husker Quad and Hawkeye B1G invitational as well.

“Today, the atmosphere was completely different compared all of our other invitationals because we were so zoned in,” Plater said. “It did not matter what event you were in; you could tell by the looks on our faces that we were all the determined to win, men and women.”

Plater was right; you could feel the intense atmosphere in each event before they started. It was as if you were right there in the building competing with them.

The women’s track & field team set the tone for future events by the way it performed in yesterday’s meet. In the 400-meter race, graduate student Chisom Nwoko took second place with a time of 55.72 seconds, and senior Amira Aduma took second place in the 400-meter hurdles. There were multiple moments that could have been highlighted yesterday, especially junior transfer Jessica Franklin taking first place in both the women’s 400-meter hurdles and javelin throw.

“Everyone on this team and the next is competing for one goal, which is to get that first place win no matter what it takes because that’s the one reason we are here,” said junior Emma Milburn. “Breaking record is cool and all, but I want the first-place ribbon. That is the only reason I work so hard.”

Milburn took third place with a 16:30.04 in the women’s 5000-meter race, making this a record-setting performance by moving her into eighth in the Illinois record book for this event. Milburn says she was just thrown into the 5000-meter race her freshman year, and it was not her first option when it came to being part of track and field.

“I can really see the improvements from when I ran my first 5000-meter race till now,” Milburn said. “Distance is not bad, but it requires patience, hard work and controlling your breath. There are still some things I need to work for future events, but I can honestly say I am incredibly happy about moving up in the record books.”

Though the weather had other plans, causing multiple delays and changes to the time frame of events, Illinois still competed at a very high level.

Plater, Franklin, sophomore Shrey Chowdhary, senior Jason Shannon, junior Connor Artman and redshirt senior Jon Davis set the bar high with first-place finishes last night. This dominance, competitiveness and relentlessness reveals how talented the Illini really are. The Illini finished with a victory from freshman Tyler Cushing with a 14:24.06 in the men’s 5000-meter race.

The Illini are not finished in Bloomington, Indiana just yet, as they will be back again next week for another chance to make a statement on whether Illini truly is a team to be trifled with.

 

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