Bloch-Jones soars to Big Ten title

GENEVA, Ohio — For her first indoor Big Ten Championships, Argenta-Oreana product Kandie Bloch-Jones probably couldn’t have written a better ending.

Bloch-Jones cleared 5 feet, 103/4 inches in the high jump to place first Saturday.

“She had to achieve it a different way than she has all season,” UI coach Ron Garner said. “Her start was a little shaky because of nerves. Again, she worked through it, as champions do. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but you learn to find a way to get it done. In the end, she performed with a national-level effort. We’ll have to wait and see, but she strengthened her case to participate in this year’s NCAA Championships.”

Ahlivia Spencer claimed another first-place finish for the Illini — who placed ninth at the meet — by winning the 800-meter race in 2 minutes, 6.53 seconds, which is the second-fastest time in school history.

Illinois had two other entries in the 800, with Amanda Duvendack (2:07.30) placing third and Chloe Schmidt (2:07.95) finishing sixth.

“Ahlivia ran a beautiful race to win,” Garner said. “When you have three teammates in any race it creates the confidence needed to take a risk and go for the win.”

In men’s track & field:

Pamilton repeats. Stephon Pamilton defended his Big Ten indoor 400-meter title, and the Illinois men’s track and field team placed fourth Saturday at the Big Ten Championships in Geneva, Ohio.

Pamilton placed first in 46.38 seconds, just ahead of teammate DJ Zahn, who came in second with a time of 46.67.

Pamilton was the only Illini to win an event Saturday.

“The performance of those two guys was terrific,” UI coach Mike Turk said. “Stephon has had a bit of a struggle this indoor season, but he got himself ready and stepped up big once again. DJ is probably the most improved athlete on our team, and the contributions he’s made this year are huge.”

Joe McAsey came close in the 600-meter race, placing second in 1:17.27, only two-tenths of a second behind winner Levi Gipson of Nebraska.

In softball:

Weather hinders day. The Illini led UC-Santa Barbara 2-0 in the bottom of the third inning at Long Beach State before a thunderstorm canceled the game. The game is not official because a full five innings were not played.

The game against UC-Santa Barbara came about after rain forced cancellations of the Illini’s scheduled games against Nevada and Cal State Fullerton at the Louisville Slugger Invitational in Fullerton, Calif.

In baseball:

Kravetz delivers.
Solid hitting and strong pitching by John Kravetz allowed Illinois to post a 9-1 win against Florida Gulf Coast in Gainesville, Fla. Kravetz scattered six hits in seven innings for the Illini (5-4), who won their third straight.

“John had much better composure (Saturday),” UI coach Dan Hartleb said. “He was ahead in the count and pounded down in the zone. He continues to get better.”

Left fielder Ryan Nagle and right fielder Casey Fletcher, an Oakwood product, each went 3 for 4 and drove in two runs for Illinois. Center fielder Will Krugg (2 for 5) added two RBI on a single in the second inning that increased Illinois’ lead to 4-1.

“We have done a good job of situational hitting over the last three games that has led to three victories,” Hartleb said. “There hasn’t been one superstar, just a lot of guys doing their job and playing good team baseball.”

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