IOWA CITY, Iowa — Seniors Kelly Washington (heptathlon) and Chantelle Groenewoud (3,000-meter steeplechase) each finished second Saturday, while 12 of their Illinois teammates qualified for today's event finals at the rain-soaked Big Ten Outdoor Championships in Iowa City, Iowa.
With 26 team points, Illinois was tied for sixth place with Michigan State.
"Overall, we are looking really good," UI coach Tonja Buford-Bailey said. "Our mentality going into it was to run like a winner, and that is what we've been doing. The whole team has stepped it up, and it didn't matter what the weather was like because they fought through the conditions."
Groenewoud, who finished fourth in the Big Ten steeplechase the past two years, ran a personal-best 10:17.28 to earn her first conference medal in the event. Her time ranks second on the all-time school list. Washington scored a personal-best 5,221 points to trail only Jessica Flax (5,372) of Wisconsin. On the final day of the multievents competition, Washington tied for first in the long jump (18 feet, 6 inches), placed second in the javelin throw (124-0) and was third in the 800 (2:29.49).
The Illini's 400 relay of Cheria Morgan, Ashley Kelly, Kayla Smith and Tamika Robinson turned in the fastest qualifying time at 44.83.
Three Illini qualified for the 400 finals, led by Kelly. The reigning indoor Big Ten champion in the 400 posted the top time in preliminaries at 54.72.
Illinois also advanced three runners out of the 200 preliminaries. Melissa Bates had the No. 2 prelim time of 24.23.
Robinson's time in 100 qualifying (11.50) was a personal best and the top clocking overall. She also advanced in the 100 hurdles (13.63)
In men's track & field:
Riley sets busy pace. Illini junior Andrew Riley will compete in three finals today at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships in Iowa City, Iowa. The Kingston, Jamaica, native advanced out of preliminaries in the 100 meters and 110 hurdles, and also helped the 400 relay move on.
Riley, the defending champion in the 110 hurdles, turned in the second-fastest time in prelims (14.23 seconds). He led off a 400 relay that included senior Azeez Shogbuyi, sophomore Josh Zinzer and junior Stanley Azie, with the foursome clocking the second-fastest prelim time (40.69).
Azie also is scheduled to run in three finals after advancing in the 100 (10.64) and 200 (21.74) as well as the 400 relay.
Illini senior Cody Wisslead, the top seed in the 400 hurdles, posted the best qualifying time (51.87) while advancing.
Despite a fall at the final water jump, UI junior Kyle Engnell placed fifth in the 3,000 steeplechase.
"I saw one of the gutsiest performances out of Kyle today," Illini interim coach Mike Turk said. "He fell on the last water jump but got right back up and didn't lose a place. He fought until the end and gave us the type of performance we needed."
Engnell, who placed seventh in the steeplechase the past two seasons, finished in 8:51.65.
Illinois 7, Purdue 4. Right-hander John Anderson came within one out of his fifth complete game of the season, helping the Illini even their Big Ten series against the Boilermakers, 1-1, at West Lafayette, Ind.
Staked to leads of 3-0 and 6-2, Anderson (6-6) evened his record while allowing eight hits and walking none in 82/3 innings. Fellow fifth-year senior Wes Braun retired the only Purdue batter he faced for his sixth save.
Eight batters contributed to Illinois' 10-hit attack, with Adam Davis and Willie Argo contributing two hits apiece.
The win lifted the Illini (21-25) into a third-place tie with Purdue at 11-9.
"We played a complete game today," UI coach Dan Hartleb said. "Anderson was outstanding today. He gave us a great start. Defensively, we made some great plays, and early in the game we really swung the bats. We were much better from a technical standpoint and did a good job with runners in scoring position."
Minnesota 3, Illinois 2. Alex Davis' walkoff RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning handed the Illini a regular season-ending Big Ten loss at Minneapolis.
Illinois (27-22, 12-8) was unable to take advantage of six Gophers errors and stranded 10 runners. Danielle Zymkowitz had two of the Illini's five hits off freshman pitcher Sara Moulton, who struck out 10 and took sole possession of Minnesota's record for single-season wins with her 28th.
"Today, Minnesota's starting pitcher ... pitched herself out of some jams, and we didn't get the clutch hits we needed," Illini coach Terri Sullivan said. "We left too many runners on base and didn't take advantage of Minnesota's mistakes. ... We competed with tough conditions but didn't get the job done."
The Illini will learn tonight whether their season will continue when the NCAA tournament field is announced.