Track, field prepare for Illinois Twilight


Jason Howell

Freshman sprinter Ja’Marcus Townsend placed 17th in the prelims of the men’s 100-meter dash during the Big Blue Classic on April 2 at O’Brien Field. Both the men and women placed first.

Mark Shanahan, Assistant Sports Editor

The men and women’s track and field teams will be back in action on Saturday for the Illinois Twilight meet.

At this meet last year, the men’s team placed second out of the 10 schools competing and the women finished in third out of 11 teams. Director of Track and Field Tom Akers said that the team will not be too concerned with scoring this weekend.

“Everybody that is healthy is going up to Illinois,” he said. “Some people we are moving around to different events just for a little variety. We’re not too worried about scoring. We weren’t worried about scoring at Illinois State so it was really nice to see that the men won the meet and the women got second.”

At the Twilight last year, the women won the 4×100-meter relay and the men came in second to host Illinois, but set the school record. The record-setting team included sophomore Zach Booth, former student Norvel Mohammed, junior Jamal Robinson and senior Christian Ilunga-Matthiesen. The women’s team included senior Angelica Anyaogu, senior Briana Walker, sophomore Darneshia Spann and sophomore Nyjah Lane.

The teams are coming off of last meet at Illinois State where they had nine first-place finishes. Akers likes the progress the team has made through the first couple of outdoor meets.

“We had some really good performances this last weekend at Illinois State,” he said. “It was a little never wracking because we’ve had some good performances with bad weather and then we had such a good day weather wise, then you start to have high expectations on getting some really good performances.”

With that meet finished and the weather seemingly getting better than it was for the first month of the season, Akers is happy with how the team performed last time out.

“Obviously, the team came through,” he said. “They competed really well and all the performances showed up so hopefully we can continue to keep heading in that direction.”

The entries have already been turned in for the Drake Relays next week, so the Illini Twilight will not serve as a qualifier. Akers said that everything the athletes have done up to this point and time has set the table on whether they will compete next week at Drake.

As for the Illinois Twilight on Saturday, he will be evaluating individuals and preparing them for the upcoming weeks.

“We’re looking at individual competition, individual performances and continuing to prepare ourselves for conference and NCAA Regionals,” he said.

The field events are set to start at noon and the running events will follow later, beginning at 5:00 p.m. Akers talked about how the Twilight will run on Saturday.

“The running events don’t start until 5 p.m. at night and I think the last running event might be scheduled to get going at about 11:30, so it’s going to be a late night, but generally at that time of the evening the wind’s died down and it becomes almost ideal conditions for some real good performances,” he said.


Mark Shanahan can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]