‘Shoes’ set to represent men’s track

By Stuart Lieberman

Sophomore Lesiba Masheto, known as “Shoes,” will represent the Illinois men’s track and field team at the NCAA Indoor Championships on Friday and Saturday in Fayetteville, Ark. Shoes qualified for the 400-meter dash with a time of 46.65 last weekend at the Iowa State Last Chance Qualifier in Ames, Iowa.

Shoes is having a very admirable first season for the Illini, coming from Botswana in January.

“This is just the icing on the cake,” head coach Wayne Angel said.

Shoes has had to adapt to the intensity of training with a college team, as well as the academics and culture at an American university. Back in Botswana, Shoes only competed once or twice a month – now he competes every weekend.

“It is good to compete, but for me it is hard because I am not used to it,” he said.

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    Angel empathizes with Shoes’ transition to American track competition.

    “He is not under the same pressure an American is now,” Angel said. “I admire what he is doing.”

    In addition, Shoes is finishing up his first season of racing indoors.

    “He is just now winding into the type of fitness that will help him do well at nationals,” Angel said.

    Shoes feels much more confident in indoor competition than he did in January.

    “I am not feeling that I am under pressure considering that I am doing well,” Shoes said. “My indoor season is going the way I wanted.”

    Shoes grabbed the 15th spot in a field of 16, but feels that he can perform better this weekend.

    “I don’t think I’ll be number 15,” Shoes said. “At the moment my focus is just to make the finals because anything can happen in the finals. In the finals it is open for everybody.”

    Shoes said that after the first round the runners expose their weakness. He said he feels that once he makes it past this point, he can use the other athletes’ weaknesses to his advantage.

    In fact, Shoes has already competed against some of the other runners. Earlier this season at the Cyclone Classic in Ames, Iowa, Shoes finished in second place, right behind No. 7-seed Aaron Buzard of Minnesota, and ahead of No. 13-seed Lunis Luna of Kentucky, who finished in sixth place.