Stryganek’s 200 title leads Illini men’s track and field at Indiana Relays

By Thomas Donley

When the Illinois men’s track and field team traveled to Bloomington, Ind., for the Indiana Relays this past weekend, Brandon Stryganek viewed the 200-meter dash as just another race. Maybe that’s because it was his second time lining up against the defending Big Ten champion in as many weeks.

Stryganek came from behind in the 200 to beat reigning conference champion Timothy Faust of Ohio State for the second week in a row with a time of 21.56 seconds.

“It was a good race,” said Stryganek, who has been competing against Faust since the age of 16. “I think I ran it like coach and I planned, got out hard. I paced myself for a little bit then went a little extra strong and finished it out.”

Stryganek’s title was the only one a relatively short-handed Illinois team brought home from the 50-team meet in Bloomington, Ind. No team scores were recorded at the meet.

“We didn’t have everybody compete this weekend,” head coach Mike Turk said. “We had a few guys that were resting up from last week and getting ready to go to Nebraska next week, but I thought we had some really, really good performances.”

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Among those performances was Vanier Joseph’s second-place finish in the 60-meter hurdles. After a slow start to the season due to a nagging hamstring injury, Joseph finished the race with a time of 7.79 seconds, 0.15 seconds behind Indiana State’s Greggmar Swift, whose time is the fastest in the nation this season.

Sophomore Liam Markham finished fourth in the mile with a personal best 4 minutes, 2.37 seconds, the fastest collegiate time in the event for the meet behind three professional runners.

“I just liked the way he looked, and it was really encouraging because he said he really didn’t feel that good,” Turk said. “But he really looked good and that was a big step forward for Liam to run that kind of race in the mile.”

Cody Klein highlighted the Illini field events with a third-place finish in the pole vault. Klein cleared 5.15 meters, 0.1 meter shy of his indoor personal best.

“Overall, I’d say I’m happy with today’s performance,” Klein said. “The focus was to work on things we’d been working on all week in practice. It went pretty well up until that last bar and it kind of fell apart, so I’m a little bit upset about that.”

In the 600 meters, Zebo Zebe finished third with a time of 1:19.67, the season high for the Illini in the event. Jereme Atchison finished third in his first career race in the 5,000-meter run, with teammate Brendan McDonnell finishing 0.19 seconds behind him.

“I think we’ll be pretty well prepared for the meet at Nebraska,” Turk said. “Guys are excited. It’ll be pretty hot competition. We’ve got a couple guys that we rested up this week — guys in weight throw, and multi-events, and heptathlon, and Luke Carroll and Will Brewster will be ready. I think we’ll be very ready for the competition next week.”

Thomas can be reached at [email protected].