Men’s track rests up for Big Tens while a few compete at EIU

The Illinois men’s track and field team’s last meet before the Big Ten Indoor Championships on Feb. 27-28 will act more like an intense practice than a competition when the team heads to Charleston, Ill., for the EIU Friday Night Special.

Because the Big Ten Indoor Championships are next week in Minneapolis, Minn., interim head coach Mike Turk does not want any injuries to plague his team with such an important meet coming up.

“We don’t want to do anything we don’t need to do at this point in the season,” Turk said. “There are some guys who need to compete in order to do their best at the Big Ten Championships and others who do not.”

Many athletes expecting to compete at the Big Ten Indoor Championships will not be competing in the meet. Instead, the Illini are decreasing workout intensity and using the weekend to get schoolwork done. Because the Big Ten meet in Minneapolis is on a Saturday and Sunday, the Orange and Blue will leave for the meet on Thursday. Those not competing this Friday will instead use the day for their last challenging workout.

“Normally what we do in our practice week is work hard on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday,” Turk said. “We’re backing it up so that everything leads up well to the (Big Ten Indoor Championships).”

Senior Greg Shroka and sophomore Andrew Riley are two of the few who are competing at the Big Ten Championships and the EIU Friday Night Special. They will both compete in the high jump. Shroka is a tentative entry for Illinois because of tightness he felt in his quadriceps last week at the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark.

“It all depends on how I’m feeling. If my quads aren’t feeling up to par, I’m not going to jump,” Shroka said. “If I do compete, I’m going to take it as my jump day. Normally I’d have it be Tuesday, but because the meet is on Friday I’ll just use it as my jump day.”

Other than Shroka, the only injury that Turk and the Illini are facing is a quadriceps injury to freshman Boyea Lockett.

“Everything revolves around the Big Ten Indoor Championships right now,” Turk said. “We won’t look too much to win anything this weekend. Guys will try to do well, but health is the most important thing.”

Other than Shroka and Riley, pole vaulters will compete and distance runners will run off events, which are ones that aren’t their primary, normal events. None of the sprinters competing at the Big Ten Indoor Championships will compete.

“At this point, there’s nothing to improve on,” Turk said. “We just need to rest up. There’s nothing special that we can do; there’s no magic being. No pixie dust. We’re just trying to keeping guys fresh and keeping them sharp.”