Illini women’s track and field prepare for Billy Hayes Invitational

The Illinois women’s track and field team will travel to Bloomington, Indiana, this weekend to compete in the Billy Hayes Invitational, the team’s last meet before Big Ten Outdoor Championships.

As the season is drawing closer to its championship stage, the Orange and Blue are focused on making sure every meet and practice count.

“As always we want to give it one hundred ten percent at practice every single day,” sprinter Jesica Ejesieme said. “With Big Tens around the corner, it’s time for us to piece together what we have been working on all season.”

For Ejesieme, as well as the rest of the team, making sure to maintain focus and taking care of their bodies at this juncture of the season becomes especially important now that most of the preparation and hard training is behind them.

“Resting, eating right and the little things are most important now,” Ejesieme said. “We’ve been training all year and putting in work, so it’s just time to show it and rise to the occasion.”

With Big Ten Championships less than two weeks away and numerous hours of intense training behind them, several members of the team have made it a point of emphasis to rest their bodies to make sure they perform their best when it matters most.

“At this point in the season, I think recovery becomes more important than ever,” distance runner Alyssa Schneider said. “It is more about running fast when it counts and giving your body a bit of a break from all the work put in throughout the season.”

For an athlete like Schneider, someone who has been competing since the fall with crosscountry, getting rest becomes especially important.

“Taking care of your body is huge,” said Schneider, who is currently ranked in the top-10 in the Big Ten in the 1,500 and 5,000 meter runs. “We’ve trained hard, but right now it’s more about maintaining and racing well.”

Schneider, along with Ejesieme, figure to lead the way for the Illini in events on the track this weekend.

For field events, throwers Jazjuan Wallace-Sipp and Mariah Smith should shoulder the bulk of the scoring. Wallace-Sipp is coming off a performance last weekend in which she threw for 166 feet, seven inches, the top mark in the conference. Smith is right behind her, holding the second-best mark, with a throw of 166 feet.

The Billy Hayes Invitational will provide the Orange and Blue a last chance to work on any adjustments or technical work before Big Tens.

The meet will feature local teams from around the Midwest area including Indiana, Indiana State, Ball State, Ohio, Miami(OH) and Rose-Hulman among others. After racing against some of the best teams in the country in consecutive weeks at LSU and Drake, this weekend will give the Illini a chance to capture several event titles and build up some much needed momentum going into the Big Ten championships.

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