Barnett breaks 30-year-old school record at Rod McCravy Memorial Meet

By Will Small

Head coach Mike Turk was a pretty big fan of the Illinois men’s track team after its weekend success at the Rod McCravy Memorial Meet.

“It was a great meet with a bunch of highly ranked teams and I feel like we competed really well,” Turk said. “We showed we truly are a well-rounded team.”

Junior Ian Barnett had one of the team’s best performances at the meet, running the 3,000 meters in 8:02.40 to break the school record set in 1985 by Ty Wolf. Barnett placed sixth overall in the event — beat out by runners from perennial powers Oregon and Arkansas.

“He looked awesome,” Turk said of Barnett’s performance. “Ian has a beautiful running form. We’re finally seeing Ian with the self confidence to go to a higher level.”

One of the strong points for the Illini so far this season has been freshman Jonathan Wells, who continued his impressive set of performances in the high jump. Wells tied for first place with USC’s Randall Cunningham, jumping a height of 2.14 meters.

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“This was by far the best field of jumpers Jonathan has faced this year,” Turk said. “Although he was a little off of his top form, he competed and pulled out the win.”

Sophomore David Kendziera and Junior Cam Viney qualified for the final heat in the 60-meter hurdles, where they both finished with a time of 7.96, good enough for seventh overall.

“Viney and Kendziera were both solid today. I’m pleased that they are both showing some quality consistency,” said Turk.

In the weight throw, senior Davis Fraker finished third overall, throwing a distance of 20.53 meters. Turk looks forward to the postseason where he believes Fraker will be highly competitive.

“Fraker looks poised to make his run into the NCAAs and get on the podium this year,” Turk said. “I think he has also discovered a flaw in his technique he can change.”

Turk said he specifically sees improvement in the 800 meters. The Illini had two of the top-12 finishers in the event, with Bryce Basting finishing 12th and Joe McAsey finishing second.

“All of our 800 guys are progressing well,” Turk said. “Basting showed great closing speed and Joe McAsey slugged it out with a couple of the best in the country. Joe has quite an array of tactics he can use in a race and as his confidence grows, he keeps getting better.”

Turk added that he believes there’s room for improvement, which could help the team down the road, “We had a few rough spots, a few guys that definitely were not at their best, but we had other guys that seized the opportunity to step up and shoulder the load. I’m really proud of the way we competed.”

Will can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter