Illinois men’s track and field wins 5 events at Auburn’s Tiger Track Classic

The Illinois men’s track and field team traveled south this weekend to Auburn’s Tiger Track Classic in Auburn, Ala. They were met with great conditions and were able to bring home five event titles and several other high finishes.

“It’s satisfying to come down into SEC-country and come home with a bunch of top finishes,” head coach Mike Turk said in a press release. “We performed at a very high level across the board with outstanding early season marks.”

Illinois’ top performer on the track was distance runner Jannis Toepfer. Toepfer dominated both of the races he competed in. On Friday night in the 5000 meter run, Toepfer clocked in at 13 minutes, 59.17 seconds to break 14 minutes for the first time and win by 10 seconds.

Toepfer last ran the event at indoor Big Tens last month and barely missed sub-14 status, running 14:00.66.  

In Toepfer’s other event, the 3000 meter steeplechase on Saturday, he ran 8:59.99 and won by 24 seconds. He was able to defend his steeplechase title from last year’s Tiger Track Classic, where he dominated the field in a similar fashion, winning by 18 seconds.

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Toepfer wasn’t the only distance runner with a strong performance in the meet. His teammate Graham Morris finished second in the steeplechase in 9:24.12 and teammate Jordan Herbert finished third in the 5000 with a 14:12.29.

Another title defense came from the 4×400 meter relay of DJ Zahn, Joe McCasey, Kenneth Allen, and Stephon Pamilton, who ran 3:07.07 to win by just 0.37 seconds. The 4×100 meter team, which has shown a lot of promise early in the outdoor season, came in second place. Auburn beat them by a narrow 0.45 seconds.

 “I’m really pleased with the work we have put in for both relays. The relays really show the quality depth we have in the program,” Turk said.

For the second straight week, the team came away with two victories in the hurdle events. Vanier Joseph took the 110-meter hurdles in 13.84 seconds and Cam Viney won the 400-meter hurdles by more than a second in 50.93. Turk was very impressed with Viney’s performance.

“Cam probably had the most dominant performance in the meet. He looks like he’s ready to step up on a national level this year,” Turk said.

One of the top performances on the field side came from thrower Brandon Noe. Noe competed in both discus and shot put, coming in second and fifth respectively.  

“We seized this opportunity and made the most of it. I think we accomplished a lot and are well ahead of where we were at this time last year,” said Turk.

Chris can be reached at [email protected].