Illinois women’s track and field finishes fourth in outdoor season opener

The Illinois women’s track and field team finished fourth out of five teams this weekend at the Arizona State Invitational in Tempe, Ariz.

The Illini competed in a strong field that included several top 25-ranked teams. They finished the meet with 85.5 points, while the winner, Arizona Sate, totaled 186.

The overall team performance was not as strong as they might have hoped, but the Orange and Blue received several outstanding individual performances.

The Illini posted 12 top-five finishes, as well as several finishes that rank among some of the best in program history.

Senior sprinter Jesica Ejesime led the team in scoring with two event titles. She won the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 13.69 seconds and the 400 hurdles in 59.12 seconds.

The team also had strong performances from sprinters Mobolaji Adeokun and Samone Thompson, who finished second and fifth respectively in the 100 hurdles. Adeokun’s time of 14.01 seconds was a personal-best.

Sophomore Kymbriona Taylor wrapped up the scoring for the Orange and Blue in the sprints with a second-place finish in the 200.

Sophomore Alyssa Schneider led the way for the Illini in the distance events, placing second in the 1,500 meters with a time of 4 minutes, 32.52 seconds. This performance was a personal-best and the ninth-fastest outdoor mark in school history. Senior Stephanie Morgan also scored points for the Illini in the event, finishing fifth with a time of 4:26.47.

One performance of note was that of junior Chloe Schmidt. Although Schmidt only placed fifth in the 800 meters, her performance of 2:07.37 was not only a personal-best, but the eighth-fastest time in school history.

Sophomore Jennifer DeBellis led the way for the Illini in the field events, as she placed second in the pole vault.

Junior Mariah Smith placed fifth in the discus with a personal-best heave of 159.81 feet, the fourth-best distance in school history.

After a sensational indoor season, Big Ten champion high jumper and second-team All-American freshman Kandie Bloch-Jones competed in her first meet since nationals and placed fifth in the event.

The Illini will look to improve on their overall team performance next weekend when they compete next at the Tiger Track Classic in Auburn, Ala.

Mubarak can be reached at [email protected] or @justmubar.