Men’s track achieves goals in split-squad meets

Heading into the weekend, the Illinois men’s track and field team’s coaching staff had two main goals when it split the squad up and competed in two different meets: keeping the team’s momentum alive and staying healthy.

On their respective bus rides home, the two split squads realized they had done that and more, as multiple athletes were able to achieve personal bests and no one was injured.

The highlight of the weekend, however, was Andrew Riley, who continued to get things done for the Orange and Blue at the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark. Riley tied the school record in the 60-meter dash Saturday in a time of 6.72 seconds. His mark was also a NCAA provisional qualifying time. He now owns the school records for both the 60-meter dash and the 60-meter hurdles.

“While I’m very proud of Andrew, I don’t want him to overshadow what the other guys on the team did,” interim head coach Mike Turk said. “A lot of people had great weekends.”

The majority of the team competed at the Iowa State Classics, where 3,800 athletes competed overall. The Friday portion of the meet was highlighted by an Illini victory by the distance medley relay team made up of senior Mike Murray, freshman Josh Zinzer, sophomore Graham Farnsworth and freshman Kyle Engnell. The quartet won with a time of 9 minutes, 48.96 seconds.

“The distance medley relay had a very confident performance,” distance coach Wendel McRaven said. “They pretty much controlled the race the whole way. It’s always great to win, especially at a big meet like the one we were at, so I see a lot of positive things happening in the future for this group of guys.”

On Saturday, the 4-x-400 meter relay also had an impressive performance. The team of junior Shane Daniel, freshman Bai Kabba, freshman Malcom Taylor and junior Dan Jones ran a season-best time of 3:12.77, five seconds faster than their previous best.

“We knew we could run fast; we just had to put the guys all together when they were all fresh,” McRaven said. “Most of the time, these guys are running the event after running multiple before then. This time, they were all well-rested and ready to go.”

Daniel was pleased with how he and the team did despite being injured and new to the Illinois track experience.

“This is still new to me because I didn’t run indoor track here,” Daniel said, who ran at American River Junior College in California earlier this year. “We dropped a lot of seconds, and we still have a lot of room for improvement.”

Next up for the Orange and Blue is the EIU Friday Night Special on Friday in Charleston, Ill. Turk said that not many of his athletes will participate because he wants to rest his team for the Big Ten Championships the week after in Minneapolis, Minn.