Outdoor track & field season begins, Illinois sees 12 PR’s in Ole Miss Classic


Photo courtesy of Craig Pessman/Big Ten/Illinois Athletics

Senior Bret Dannis jumps over the hurdles during his 110m hurdle event for the Big Ten Track Outdoor Championship on May 16. Dannis placed second in the men’s 100m for the Ole Miss Classic on Saturday.

By Ben Fader, Staff Writer

The 2022 Outdoor Track & Field season is officially underway, as the Illini competed in the Ole Miss Classic this weekend.

It was a solid start to the season, with seven event titles won and twelve personal records paving the way for a team looking to make significant strides this spring.

Junior Tyler Sudduth was the only one of the Illini’s three indoor All-Americans to compete this weekend, placing third in the men’s shot put.

The men’s relay teams put together quite a day as they often did during the indoor season. Senior Declan Rustay, freshman DaCorey Ware, senior Bret Dannis and freshman DeVontae Ford took the 4×100 relay, and the team of junior Robert Williams, junior Jason Thormo, redshirt junior Kashief King and Ford won the 4×400 relay.

The women’s 4×400 relay took first place as well with the quartet of freshman Mia Abraham, junior Jessica McDowell, junior Danni Stoughton, and freshman Logan Neely.

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Bret Dannis believes that the weather may have been a factor that helped the Illini succeed today, as he stated that “it was great to be back outside, especially in the south.”

Dannis placed second in the men’s 100m, which isn’t his main event, but he was happy with the result and knows he can do more to get better.

“I think the biggest thing I can do to improve in the 100 is simply getting more reps and opportunities in (the event),” Dannis said.

Overall, a solid season opener for a team without their two best competitors, and everyone is hungry to improve on the team’s No. 38 ranking in the country following the indoor season.

“As a team, we are right on the cusp of taking it to the next level,” Dannis said. “If we can keep that momentum and make steady progress, I believe outdoor season is where we will shine.”

The individual event titles for the Illini were won by Freshman Tori Thomas in the pole vault (4.00m), McDowell in the women’s 400m (53.24), junior Tracy Towns in the women’s 800 (2:10), and Ford, who won the men’s 400 hurdles (52.43).

Athletes who recorded personal bests today were:

Junior Michael Shafis – Men’s Javelin (47.47m) & Men’s Discus (38.12m)

Junior Aiden Ouimet – Men’s Discus (34.06) & Men’s 110 Hurdles (15.31)

Junior Eddie Lennon – Men’s 3000m (8:29)

Sophomore Ben Giblin – Men’s 3000m (8:33)

Freshman William Merrick – Men’s 800m (1:51)

DaCorey Ware – Men’s 200m (21.45)

Dannie Stoughton – Women’s 400m (55.94)

Senior Kionnah Weaver – Women’s 400m Hurdles (1:03)

Freshman TaCoria Humphrey-Women’s 200m (24.41)

Senior Nya Carr-Women’s 200m (24.69)

Next, the Illini will split up for two meets on Friday and Saturday. Some of the team will travel to Stanford, California, for the Stanford Invitational hosted by the Cardinal. The rest of the team will stay in state for the Redbird Invitational in Normal, Illinois.



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