Younger runners step up for Illini men’s track

By Stuart Lieberman

Another weekend means another chance to improve for the Illinois men’s track team. And this weekend, improve is just what the Illini did.

The Illini had another successful outing, capturing one provisional qualifying time and four personal best times at the Meyo Invitational in South Bend, Ind.

“I was pleased for the most part,” head coach Wayne Angel said. “We are starting to get athletes that are stepping up.”

The Illini were anchored by sophomore Lesiba Masheto, who won the 400-meter dash in a photo finish, with a provisional qualifying time and personal best of 47.18.

Freshman Jeremy Stevens ran a personal best in the mile with a time of 4:12.83. In the 800-meter run, freshmen Brian Beaird and Scott Phelps both ran personal bests, with times of 1:52.68 and 1:53.07, respectively.

“We had some bright spots in the 800-meter,” Angel said.

Unfortunately, sophomore Dominique Worsley has recently been nagged by a hamstring injury. In addition, senior Nick Brown has not been fully healthy.

As a result, the Illini are going to have to rely on their younger team members. For such a young team, the Illini are quickly improving, building on their success with every weekend.

“The times improved,” Angel said. “We have to have those improvements if we are going to be competitive.”

Masheto agreed.

“Each and every practice we have taken some steps ahead,” he said. “There was some improvement in the 800-meter, and in the 4×4, but there is still some improvement to do.”

Next weekend, the Illini travel to Ames, Iowa, where they will compete in the Cyclone Classic. The meet should be a tougher challenge than the Meyo Invitational, but the Illini see it as another meet where they can improve. They hope to receive qualifying marks for the NCAA Championships and that it will prepare them for the Big Ten Indoor Championships later this month.