Illinois men’s track and field hosts Illinois Twilight meet this weekend

Saturday will be the first and last outdoor meet hosted by the Illinois men’s track team this spring.

The Illini host the Illinois Twilight meet Saturday in the Illinois Track and Soccer Stadium.

Though the team has limited opportunities to compete at home, the team plans to take advantage of the Illinois Twilight to leave a lasting impression, while preparing for a crucial meet the next week at the Drake Relays.

“Being at home in an environment filled with our family, friends and classmates makes a big difference,” head coach Mike Turk said. “We always have great performances at home meets … It’s a chance for a lot of the guys to show people what they’ve been doing.”

Illinois will be looking to continue last weekend’s success at the Jim Click Shootout in Tucson, Arizona. The Illini finished at the top of a field that included No. 4 LSU and No. 5 University of Southern California. Senior Davis Fraker set a new school record for the hammer throw with a 65.36 meter toss and junior Cam Viney captured Illinois’ only sprints victory with a personal best of 49.92 seconds in the 400-meter hurdles.

“We’ve started out real well — we put up some good marks and beat good teams,” Turk said. “However, we can’t just sit on that and wait for the next big meet. We’ve got to take each day as it comes and improve on it.”

Because the team has started out so well, Turk expects his team not to rest on what it has already accomplished.

“I challenged the team last week to keep improving, and they did very well as a whole responding to the challenge,” Turk said.

Illinois will attempt to maintain its home dominance for the year. The Illini were a perfect 3-0 during the cross country and indoor track and field seasons in team events that were held at home. With the outdoor season now underway, Illinois’ opponents will now have to deal with the weather conditions.

“A lot of the teams that come down here aren’t used to the wind,” senior DJ Zhan said. “We practice in it every day, so it doesn’t affect us as much as the other teams.”

Field events for the Illinois Twilight will start at noon, while the running events are scheduled to start at 5 p.m.

Teams competing include: Eastern Illinois, Bradley, Butler, DePaul, Illinois State, UIC, Valparaiso, Western Illinois and Indiana.

The Illini are also using the home meet as a final tuneup before next week’s Drake Relays. Coaches and players alike are hoping that solid performances this Saturday will carry over to the Relays, one of college track’s most prestigious events.

“We’ve got a couple of people we’re sharpening up for Drake (Relays),” Turk said, “We’ll have them run in an off-event (an event they don’t usually participate in). We’ve also got a couple people in the field events that are looking to put up better marks for their entrance seedings before Drake.”

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