Illini men’s track and field returns home for the Orange and Blue Open

By Chris Kennedy

The Illinois men’s track and field team returns to the Armory this weekend for the Orange and Blue Open after a series of tough meets on the road. 

Last weekend, the team split, with distance runners traveling to the Iowa State Cyclone Classic in Ames, Iowa and the rest of the team competing at the SPIRE Invitational in Geneva, Ohio.  While the Illini had 11 top-10 finishers at SPIRE, the rankings were not kind this week as they dropped from No. 23 to No. 57 in the USTFCCCA national rankings.

After facing top-15 teams at SPIRE and Iowa State, such as Penn State and Pittsburgh, the Orange and Blue Open features just three competing schools: Illinois, No. 39 Illinois State and NAIA No. 15 Missouri Baptist. 

Saturday’s meet marks the final one of the indoor season for the Illini before the Big Ten Championships next week, back at the SPIRE track in Geneva. It is also the first time the Illini have competed at home since the Illini open over a month ago, which means athletes who don’t get to travel will have a chance to compete. For pole vaulter Blaze Galardy, the Illini’s top pole vaulter at SPIRE, he said family and friends attending the meet is one of the biggest benefits of competing at home as well as hanging out with all of his teammates. 

Turk also said he’s looking for other athletes to step up in the Orange and Blue Open. Freshman hurdler Dave Kendziera, sophomore sprinter Cam Vineyand junior pole vaulter Matt Bane are all athletes Turk expects to compete well at the Open.

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Meanwhile, some athletes will be competing for something more before the travel squad roster is set for Big Tens.

“This is an opportunity for them,” Turk said. “We’ve got a couple people who are still trying to show that they’re ready to go to a Big Ten meet and earn their spot on a travel squad.”

Chris can be reached at [email protected]