Relay team capitalizes in Last Chance

Katie+Engel+passes+the+baton+to+Camile+Robinson+at+the+Armory+on+Feb.+24.+Robinson+ran+the+4x400+relay+Saturday.+The+relay+team+turned+in+a+season+best+time+of+3%3A36.20%2C+the+ninth+best+mark+registered+in+the+nation+this+season.+ME+Online%0A

Katie Engel passes the baton to Camile Robinson at the Armory on Feb. 24. Robinson ran the 4×400 relay Saturday. The relay team turned in a season best time of 3:36.20, the ninth best mark registered in the nation this season. ME Online

By Daniel Johnson

Throughout this week, head coach Gary Winckler has been advocating improvement in areas small and large for the team. The Illini women’s track and field team traveled to the Iowa State Last Chance Qualifier this weekend to see if they had improved to the extent that Winckler had hoped for.

“Going into the meet, we weren’t going to be doing too much,” Winckler said. “We were concerned mostly with improving our relay time. We have a lot of qualifying times already, but we knew that we needed to improve upon our 4×400 relay time. We did some events here and there, but if we could improve the time, it would really help our chances with the NCAA Championships.”

The relay team of Carlene and Camile Robinson, Yvonne Mensah and Omoye Ugiagbe did what they had set out to do and came through in the relay, improving on last weekend’s second-place finish at the Big Ten Indoor Championships. Last weekend’s time of 3:38.74 seconds was surpassed by another second-place finish, but this time with a time of 3:36.20. The time is ninth best in the nation, and should give the Illini a good chance to go to the NCAAs.

“The relay can be pretty nerve-racking, especially when you are trying to improve this late in the season,” Mensah said before the meet. “But at the same time, it’s kind of fun. So much can happen with four people running.”

In addition to the relay team, Mariesa Greene continued to fare well in the high jump. Greene, who was disappointed with her performance at the Big Ten Championships, improved upon her last effort and won the event with a height of 5’10.00″.

The only other event that the Illini took place in was the 400-meter dash. Junior Tiara Armstrong had a personal best of 56.15 seconds in the event.

Although the NCAA has not yet commissioned the list for who will be participating in the National Championships, Winckler believes that they stand a good chance of participating in as many as five events next week in Fayetteville, Ark.

“We should be in the hurdles, high jump, triple jump, long jump and the relay,” Winckler said. “We’ll see what happens, though.”