Illini men’s track looking forward to a weekend of competition and training

By Will Small

The Illinois men’s track and field team is gaining national attention this season: The Illini are ranked No. 2 in Track and Field News’ dual meet rankings. 

“They’re reflective of the fact that we’re improving as a team and a program,” head coach Mike Turk said when asked about the rankings. “It’s nice for the guys to get some recognition for the hard work they’ve put in.” 

But Turk doesn’t really pay much attention to the rankings.

“At the end of the day, (the rankings) don’t really mean much,” Turk said. “It’s a nice little pat on the back, and it motivates you to work hard for that day, and then you just keep going.” 

The team can attribute its hot start this year to a strong offseason in the fall and winter.

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“They did a very good job in the fall and then carrying that over the holidays,” Turk said. “They came back to campus in January in really good shape.”

Another important factor for the Illini has been the level of competition they have been seeing week after week. It has helped the team find out where it stacks up against the top teams in the country.

“When you see the really high level of competition from the Floridas and the Arkansas’, it desensitizes you as an athlete when you see the best in the country,” Turk said. “It helps keep things on a level playing field.” 

The Illini will look to make even more progress this weekend as they send a small group of distance runners to the Indiana Relay meet in Bloomington, Indiana. The event will take place on Friday and Saturday. The rest of the team will stay home and work on their training. 

“We’ve been going at it pretty hard,” said Turk when asked about the upcoming meet. “The hot start we’ve had has come with a price, so we’re not going to be taking a full team over to Indiana. We’ll use this week to train.”

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