Mensah long jumps to All-American finish at NCAA Indoor Championships

By Daniel Johnson

It is a strange feeling to know you will never do something again, but for Yvonne Mensah, Carlene and Camile Robinson, the feeling is most likely setting in.

The seniors on the women’s track and field team finished the indoor portion of their collegiate careers over the weekend in Fayetteville, Ark., at the NCAA Indoor Championships. The trio and the rest of the team will now start the outdoor portion of their schedule in two weeks at the Dr. Pepper Invitational in Waco, Texas. And, while head coach Gary Winckler was disappointed the team didn’t fare better in its final indoor meet, he said he is not going to dwell on the past.

“I think that we could have done better,” Winckler said. “But at Nationals, you face the best competition in the nation, and you can’t do anything but give your best, which we did. We had done a lot of work leading up to it and over the weekend, I think that some fatigue was setting in. Even with all that, we still managed to perform very well.”

The Illini competed in five events over the weekend, taking seven of their athletes to Fayetteville. Their best finish came from Mensah, who took sixth in the long jump with a distance of 20’06.25″ and earned All-American status in the process.

Mensah was an All-American last year as well, placing eighth in the triple jump with a distance of 43’03.75″.

This year she placed 14th in the same event with a distance of 41’05.75″.

Junior LaNeisha Waller ran an 8.21 in the 60-meter hurdles, taking eleventh place and missing All-American status by one-hundredth of a second.

“It really hurt to see LaNeisha end up like that,” Winckler said. “She was running really well leading up to it. It was her first time at Nationals and she did a great job.”

Junior Mariesa Greene took 14th in the high jump with a height of 5’10.75″ and the 4×400 relay team took eleventh place with a time of 3:35.94 seconds.

While the indoor season has come to a close, Winckler said he won’t shed a tear over the its passing.

“Indoor track is like a rock concert at Carnegie Hall,” he said. “I think we’re ready to get onto the real track and field.”