Illini track and field head west for Husker Invite

By Will Small

The Illinois men’s track and field team gears up for the Frank Sevigne Husker Invite in Lincoln, Nebraska this weekend. With teams like Nebraska and USC headlining the field, the Husker Invite is one of the toughest meets of the season for the Illini.

“It’ll be a real good test for us in all events,” head coach Mike Turk said. “It’s a pretty good field and we’re just really excited and I’m sure it is going to be great.”

Turk believes his team will be competitive in the team-scoring portion of the weekend, but said that is not the team’s focus.

“This is a team-scoring meet and I think we’ll do well in that scoring,” Turk said. “More importantly, we’re using this meet to set up some individual performances for some national level competitions.”

Turk wants to see his Illini take another step forward this weekend. With a rested team, Turk expects most of his runners to have big performances.

One of the most consistent performers for the Illini so far has been freshman Jonathan Wells in the high jump. Already with two first place finishes and the seventh-best jump in the nation at 7-foot-2, Wells looks to continue his strong start this weekend in Nebraska.

The 200 meter runners, Brandon Stryganek, DJ Zahn, Molefi Maat and Cole Henderson, are another group Turk would like to see do well this weekend.

“The 200 will be a big race for us,” Turk said. “We haven’t really run a good 200 yet, so getting those guys on the bank track against some good competition is an area that we’ll be looking forward to.”

Ever since Nebraska was introduced to the Big Ten, its been competitive in men’s track and field. This weekend is a chance for the Illini to get a good look at some of the Cornhuskers’ athletes before the Big Ten Championship meet, especially in the hurdles.

“We’ll have a big matchup with our hurdlers against the Nebraska hurdlers,” Turk said. “They have a really deep and talented group of hurdlers, so this will be a good matchup for us to see where we are at.”

Last weekend most of the team did not attend a meet. The Illini used that extra time to compete and train, and are now more motivated than ever.

“Practices were spirited. I could tell that they were hungry and ready to compete,” Turk said.

Will can be reached at [email protected].