Illinois women’s track and field to host 1st outdoor meet since 2010

On Saturday the Illinois women’s track and field team will be competing against more than just other schools. The Illini will have to battle Illinois weather, which has proved this winter and spring it can be tough to handle.

The Orange and Blue will host the Illinois Twilight, the first outdoor meet the team has hosted in four years.

The current forecast for Saturday afternoon is 75 degrees and sunny. But if anything, Illinois weather is known for being unpredictable.

With that being said, the Illini are hopeful the weather conditions do not interfere with competition.

“To be honest, we’re just hoping the weather doesn’t do anything crazy,” senior sprinter Kawanna Brooks said. “It’s our first home meet in a while, so Saturday is a really good opportunity for our team as whole to compete well on our home turf.”

The home turf advantage is an important one, one that can give the team extra incentive to perform well.

“Home meets are special because being able to perform in front of family and friends that can never see us compete is added motivation to do well,” Brooks added.

One athlete who has shown no need for added motivation in this early outdoor season is Britten Petrey. After winning the 3,000 meter steeplechase in consecutive weeks, Britten is off to a blazing start and will look to keep momentum.

“I have really learned that staying patient at the beginning of the race is ideal,” Petrey said. “Just staying dedicated to the plans my coaches have laid out for me will help me progress through each meet and keep momentum.”

After transitioning from the mile to the steeplechase, Petrey’s goals for the outdoor season are to place in the top seven at the Big Ten Championships and to make it to Nationals.

Besides being the first outdoor meet the team has hosted in some time, Saturday’s meet will be a special for another reason. It will be the first time senior recognition will happen outdoors in four years. A ceremony will take place during the meet honoring each senior athlete.

“We’re really excited for this weekend,” head coach Ron Garner said. “It will be a special atmosphere and it gives our seniors a chance to go out the way they should, at home.”

The meet will feature teams from around the Midwest such as Indiana, Loyola, Eastern Illinois, Iowa State and Butler among others. However, the Orange and Blue are hopeful their home turf will give them a competitive advantage over the field.

“Giving our athletes a chance to perform at home, in their comfort zone, is really important,” Garner said. “Everyone will have an extra reason to perform well.”

Garner and the rest of the coaching staff have been preaching to the team how important these early meets are.

“Success early on in the season is good because it shows you that you’re moving in the right direction,”  sophomore athlete Samone Thompson said. “It really builds up confidence which helps later on.”

With the stage set and a delightful forecast anticipated, the Illini hope Saturday will be an experience they can build from.

“The forecast looks good but you never know,” Garner said. “It could be 75 or 42 outside, but either way we’ll be ready to adapt to the elements and perform well.”

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