Men’s track ready to prove prowess

While the Illinois men’s track and field team lacks depth, its top competitors are some of the best in the nation. They will get the opportunity to prove it in Louisville, Ky., from May 29-30 at the NCAA Regional Championships.

The weekend will bring about Gakologelwang Masheto’s final regional, and he hopes to pull off the top-five place that guarantees a trip to nationals.

Masheto found out during his most recent indoor season, nothing is a sure thing. Heading into the preliminary 400-meter race at the NCAA Indoor Championships with the fastest time in the world in 2009, he failed to make the finals of the race.

Masheto used that experience to motivate him throughout the outdoor season.

“Sometimes when you have failure, those failures, I think, they just make you concentrate more,” Masheto said. “After that I just (sat) down, (thought) about it, (went) over it, and (tried) to forget about it and think about the future.”

Senior Gary Miller had a similar experience less than two weeks ago at the Big Ten Championships, where the 600-meter Indoor Big Ten champion placed 16th in the 800 meters.

“It’s kind of weird,” Miller said. “Once you have a meet that disappointing, it kind of takes you out of the picture of being a person to go (to regionals) and be the top-dog and do well and place high enough to go to nationals.”

According to Miller, his performance at Big Ten’s relieved him of pressure to do well at regionals, but it didn’t take away his desire to advance to nationals.

“It’s more motivation on myself for me to go out there and prove that I can do it, (that) I’m capable of running fast times,” said Miller, who also said he will run the 800 meters with ‘nothing to lose’.

“Any man who has nothing to lose always does greater than the man who has something to lose, because (the man who has something to lose) can’t risk it. I can risk it though, I can risk going out fast and dying hard.”

While Miller lacks any momentum heading into regionals, junior Cody Wisslead tallied a personal-best performance in the 400-meter hurdles at Big Tens and hopes to do the same this weekend.

“Every meet you’re just going in and looking to have a personal best,” Wisslead said. “Big Tens, I ran a personal best in the prelims and the finals and hopefully that momentum stays with me until regionals.”