Illinois women’s track finishes 17th at Drake Relays

After winning the Hy-Vee Cup at the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa, last year, the Illini fell short of a repeat performance and finished well behind first place Baylor. The team scored five top-five finishes for a 17th place finish, and placed in some events that were not part of the Hy-Vee Cup.

The Hy-Vee Cup, which was created in 2013, goes to the team with the combined best scores in the 4×100 meter relay, 4×400 relay, 4×800 relay, as well as the distance medley and sprint medley.

This year’s overall team champion was Baylor University with 38 points.

Redshirt sophomore Alyssa Schneider finished third in the 5,000 meter run for Illinois. Schneider’s performance ranks in the top 10 in the Big Ten currently. Schneider hopes to finish in the top three in conference and qualify for the national meet.

Another top-five finish on the day belonged to senior sprinter Jessica Ejesieme. She finished fourth in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 13.90 seconds. Ejesieme’s time currently ranks second-best in conference.  With Big Tens Championships two weeks away, Ejesieme believes having a confident mindset is key.

“I think staying positive is the biggest thing,” Ejesieme said. “It’s important to stay mentally intact because talent and hard work will ultimately come through for us.”

One athlete’s who’s hard work is starting to pay off is sophomore thrower Jazjuan Wallace-Sipp. In her outdoor season debut this weekend, Wallace-Sipp placed third in the discus with a mark of 166 feet, 7 inches. Her performance is currently the best in conference as she leads her teammate Mariah Smith, who currently holds the second-best mark, by seven inches. Wallace-Sipp and Smith figure to battle each other for a conference title at Big Ten Championships on May 16, in West Lafayette, Ind.

Britten Petrey suffered her first loss in the 3,000-meter steeplechase this outdoor season as she finished 13th in the event. However, her time of 10:49.81 seconds is a personal-best.

Other notable individual performances of the weekend belonged to 800 meter runners Ahlivia Spencer and Chole Schmidt. The two finished 10th and 13th in the event. Their times rank them at fifth and seventh in conference, respectively. Spencer is the defending conference champion in the event.

The best finish of the meet was that of the shuttle-hurdle relay team. The team, consisting of Jessica Ejesieme, Kawanna Brooks, Samone Thompson and Mobolaji Adeokun finished second with a time of 54.95 seconds, just 0.05 seconds behind Purdue, who won the event.

The Illini will compete next in the Bill Hayes Invitational in Bloomington, Ind., on May 3, the team’s final tune-up before conference championships.

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