Illini sprinter places third in 400-meter finals.
DES MOINES, Iowa — The only college runner in the 400-meter finals at Saturday’s USA Track and Field Championships, Ashley Spencer showed no signs of nerves.
The NCAA champ from Illinois finished strong to place third and qualify for the World Championships in August in Moscow.
“For her to make her first senior team — in her first try — is truly outstanding,” UI coach Tonja Buford-Bailey said. “This is what she wanted to achieve all year. It was hard to run against that level of competition for three straight days. It’s super exciting to make your first national team. I’m so happy for her.”
Spencer finished in 50.58 seconds, her second-best time this season and fifth in the world. Joining Spencer in Russia will be Natasha Hastings (49.94) and Francena McCorory (50.01).
Also Saturday, the UI’s Juan Paul Green advanced to the Pan Am Junior Championships by finishing second in the 400 (Junior Championships). Green will join Team USA in August in Colombia.
“It’s been a long season. For young guys coming off NCAAs with success, like Juan, it’s not easy to turn it up to this level again,” UI coach Mike Turk said. “It’s a great opportunity for international experience.”