Illini men’s track heads west for Iowa State Classic

By Will Small

After competing in Nebraska last weekend, the Illini men’s track and field team will once again head west and compete in the Iowa State Classic on Friday and Saturday in Ames, Iowa. 

The field includes fellow Big Ten teams Minnesota and Nebraska, as well as the host school Iowa State. These teams are all ranked ahead of Illinois in the USTFCCCA Midwest region rankings.

Senior standout Davis Fraker recently broke the Illinois school record in the weight throw, earning him the Illini men’s field athlete of the week award. Fraker will look to continue his success this weekend in Iowa as he builds toward the Big Ten and NCAA meets.  

“Davis still has a high mark left in him, and I think that will serve well for us,” head coach Mike Turk said. 

Another Illini who has been performing well is DJ Zahn, who finished third last weekend in the 200 meters, despite not racing in the final heat. This weekend, look for Zahn to be seeded in the top heat and produce a strong result. 

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The 4X400 meter relay team for Illinois has been coming on strong lately. Over the weekend, the Illini team of David Kendziera, Kenneth Allen, Cam Viney and Zahn placed second — beaten only by Nebraska. This weekend, the Illini will try to improve on their previous result against the Cornhuskers. 

Freshman Jonathan Wells has been consistent in the high jump for Illinois, proving that he can win any meet. Wells is another Illini who placed behind a Nebraska athlete last weekend, and will attempt to place higher this weekend. 

A freshman who has been building momentum is Alex Gold, who achieved a personal best in the 800 meters in Nebraska. 

Due to Big Ten travel regulations, Illinois was allowed to send only a certain amount of athletes to Lincoln last weekend. Because Nebraska was hosting the meet, the entire Huskers team could compete, which resulted in a deceptively lopsided team score. Now that both Nebraska and Illinois are visiting teams, look for the Illini to exact some revenge on a more level playing field.

“They have a couple of events that they’re really, really good in,” Turk said of the Huskers. “That’s just the way they’re constructed.”

Turk believes his program and Nebraska both admire certain things about each other. Turk added that Nebraska’s coaching philosophy is having a couple of really strong events, while his strategy is putting time and effort into every single event. This weekend is another chance for the coaches to put their tactics head-to-head.

Will can be reached at [email protected].