WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — No. 11 Illinois used a strong run over the final six holes Friday to take a 5-stroke lead against No. 13 Iowa at the Big Ten Championships.
Led by Luke Guthrie (74-69—143), the Illini rallied from a 4-shot deficit after the first round.
"For years we've talked about being strong finishers and not losing our focus by just coasting in," UI coach Mike Small said. "We didn't have our best most of the day, but we fought and I'm proud of our guys for that."
Iowa's Chris Brant (67-72—139) leads the individual competition by 4 strokes over Guthrie and Michigan State's Chris Mory.
"We try to focus on finishing off our rounds," Guthrie said. "We normally do a pretty good job of that. Today we buckled down with six to play and finished it off as strong as we could."
In men's track:
Riley stumbles. Illinois junior Andrew Riley, the NCAA indoor winner in the 60-meter hurdles and a strong favorite in the 110 hurdles, stumbled over two hurdles in a 110 preliminary heat Friday at the Drake Relays and failed to qualify for the finals.
Riley likely will get another crack at winning on the blue oval in June at the NCAA Outdoors in Des Moines, Iowa.
"This is a big disappointment. I've never stumbled in a race before. I didn't get out like I wanted to and had to make too much transition," Riley said. "I guess I'll just have to wait for my next appearance at Drake Stadium."
The UI's 400-meter relay squad posted the second-fastest prelim time Friday (40.30 seconds). Oklahoma was fastest in 40.16.
In men's tennis:
Illini advance. Brad Dancer's fourth-seeded Illini dug themselves a hole, dropping the doubles point to fifth-seeded Michigan to open their Big Ten quarterfinal match, but Bruno Abdelnour's win at No. 6 singles capped a 4-3 come-from-behind win for the Illini in Madison, Wis.
Roy Kalmanovich, Johnny Hamui and Abe Souza were also victorious for No. 18 Illinois, which will play top-seeded Ohio State in a semifinal today. The Buckeyes defeated the Illini 7-0 on March 27 at Atkins Tennis Center.
"We had our usual senior contributions today, and Bruno was forced to play under a lot of pressure," Dancer said of Abdelnour, who had to wait for another match to end before taking the court because a net broke prior to his match. "He stayed calm throughout the match and adjusted his shots and just did his thing. He's such a tough competitor and never gives up."
In women's tennis:
Wildcats up next. The sixth-seeded Illini topped third-seeded Purdue 4-1 on Friday and advanced to the Big Ten semifinals against second-seeded Northwestern.
The Illini reached the semifinals for the fourth consecutive season.
Senior Annie McCarthy and sophomore Breanne Smutko won 8-2 at No. 2 doubles for the Illini, who received an 8-6 win at No. 1 doubles from Rachael White and freshman Allison Falkin.
Illini drop opener. UI designated hitter Justin Parr had two hits, but host Northwestern tallied seven runs in its last two at-bats and went on to win 9-2 Friday at Rocky Miller Park.
Illini second baseman Pete Cappetta went 1 for 3 and scored a run.
In women's track:
Squad advances in four events. Senior Tamika Robinson anchored the 400 relay to the fastest prelim time at the Drake Relays and qualified for the 100 hurdles final.
The 1,600 relay and junior Ashley Kelly (100) also moved on.