Illini finish 2nd at Outdoor Big Tens

The Fighting Illini Men’s track and field team placed second at the 2014 Big Ten Outdoor Championships. The team totaled 109 points, which is, to record, the highest team finish since 1994. 

Three Illini were crowned conference champions, as Stephon Pamilton and Vanier Joseph successfully defended their titles, while Joe McAsey captured his first Big Ten title.

“I’m really proud of these guys,” said head coach Mike Turk. “We faced a lot of adversity, and we had some problems with travel plans and hotels. These guys just took all that in stride, which is really difficult to do coming off of final exams, and really put together a great team performance. It’s hard when after two days of competition you’re sitting in last place with 12 points, even though you have a lot of qualifiers and good things coming, it’s hard for a team to believe and stick with it but we did that. We showed a lot of resiliency and resolve to follow through with what our mission was and we came really close.”

The Illini finished one-two in the 400m, with Pamilton, a senior, winning his second consecutive outdoor 400m conference title. He clocked a personal-best time of 45.91, the sixth-fastest time in school history, to capture his fourth overall Big Ten title in the event. Just behind Pamilton, DJ Zahn placed second with a personal-best time of 45.92 — the seventh-fastest time in school history.

“Stephon Pamilton was just amazing,” Turk said. “The willpower that he has to compete and not accept mediocrity and to push himself is terrific. It was great that he broke 46 seconds and won the 400m, but it’s even more amazing what he did in the 200m. He was dehydrated and on the table in the tent and we weren’t sure he was going to answer the bell for the 200m, so for him to come out and get third place out of lane one is just unbelievable.”

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    Joseph, a senior, defended his 110m hurdles title and remains undefeated in the event this season. He clocked a time of 13.68, his second-fastest time of the season, to claim a second straight conference title in the event. 

    “In the 110m hurdles, Vanier Joseph gave a great veteran performance. He ran with a lot of confidence,” Turk said. “It was a great hurdles field and for him to take control after a shaky race in yesterday’s prelims was really clutch.”

    McAsey claimed the third event title of the day in the 800m. The indoor runner-up clocked a personal best of 1:47.73, the ninth-fastest time in school history. Turk said McAsey competed after a year of inactivity due to stress fractures, “so for him to go through the pain of rehab and come back and dominate against some really good runners is just fantastic.”

    Turk added that knowing McAsey will be back for a couple more years is “very comforting.”