CHAMPAIGN — Illinois sophomore Stephanie Richartz broke the school record in the indoor pole vault Saturday at the season-opening Illinois Open women’s track and field meet at the UI Armory.
Richartz cleared 13 feet, 11/2 inches. She held the previous mark of 12-111/2, set at the 2011 Big Ten Indoor Championships.
“Stephanie is a champion,” UI coach Tonja Buford-Bailey said. “It doesn’t matter what level she’s competing, she will always put up some points. She is going to have great success.”
Richartz’s victory was one of eight by Illinois in the nonscored meet. The Illini were joined by St. Louis and Hannibal LaGrange as well as open and unattached entrants.
Illini freshman Ashley Spencer sprinted to the 200-meter title in 24.44 seconds, currently fifth in the nation. Illinois swept the top three places in the event, with Ashley Kelly (24.63) and Kayla Smith (24.75) following Spencer.
In men’s track & field:
Freshman shines. Making his collegiate debut, Illinois freshman Branden Stryganek won the 60-meter dash and ran on a first-place relay at the Illini Open.
Stryganek captured the 60 in 6.88 seconds and anchored the UI’s 1,600 relay to a winning time of 3:23.27. The Lincolnshire Stevenson graduate was joined on the unit by Cody Wisslead, D.J. Zahn and Josh Zinzer.
The Illini won eight events in the unscored meet.
In women’s gymnastics:
Illini start fast. The No. 15 Illini recorded the highest season-opening score in program history, defeating No. 22 Minnesota 194.725-192.800 at Huff Hall.
Illinois swept the top five places on uneven parallel bars, including a three-way tie for first among juniors Macy Hyatt and Jaclyn Kantecki and sophomore Sarah Fiedler at 9.775.
Sophomore Amber See earned the highest Illini score of the meet with a 9.850 in floor exercise to win her second career title in the event.
In women’s swimming & diving:
Illini falter. Jessica Holz earned the Illini’s lone event win in a 195.5-102.5 loss to Iowa at Iowa City, Iowa. The sophomore placed first in the 200-yard backstroke in a career-best 2 minutes, 1.91 seconds. Holz remained the seventh-fastest individual in the event in UI history with her improved time.