Men’s track wins 3 event titles in outdoor debut

Instead of sleeping past noon and focusing on relaxation, the Illinois men’s track and field team spent spring break kicking off their outdoor track season with Georgia Tech’s Yellow Jacket Invitational.

The Illini won three event titles at the meet. Senior Mike Murray won the 5,000 meters, junior Cody Wisslead took home the 400-meter hurdles and sophomore Kyle Engnell captured the 3000-meter steeplechase crown.

“While Kyle’s a distance runner, his element is the 3000-meter steeplechase,” interim head coach Mike Turk said of Engnell, who was a Big Ten Indoor Championships scorer as a true freshman last year. “Come May, he’ll be right in the thick of the Big Ten steeplechase title (race).”

Wisslead’s performance came after missing the majority of the indoor season due to illness, and Murray’s winning time of 14 minutes, 55.93 seconds was a personal record.

Junior Matt McHugh improved on his own school record in the hammer throw as the only Illini to compete during Friday’s portion of the meet. The Exeter, N.H., native threw for a distance of 197 feet, 4 inches (60.15 meters) to finish second in the event. His previous best was 190 feet, 4 inches (58.02 meters).

With the beginning of the outdoor season, Turk was looking for his team to remove as much rust as possible that his team had between the Yellow Jacket Invitational and the Big Ten Indoor Championships on Feb. 27.

Now that the Illini’s first outdoor meet is under their belt, Turk is looking for his squad to continue with what was happening nearly a month ago.

“Right now, we’re in a mode where we get our focus back,” Turk said. “This is a critical time to get reenergized and get our focus set. We just need to get back to improving with every meet.”