DES MOINES, Iowa — Andrew Riley didn’t mess around when it came time to qualify for the NCAA finals in his signature event.
The Illinois senior ran the second-fastest time of his career in the 110-meter hurdles Thursday to move within one win of another national collegiate title.
“Andrew looked good,” Illini coach Mike Turk said after Riley finished in 13.30 seconds to win his semifinal heat and record the overall No. 2 qualifying time. “He ran relaxed and kept his focus. He was in control of the race from the start.”
On Saturday, Riley will seek his second NCAA title in the event and his third national crown in the hurdles. The Kingston, Jamaica, native previously won the 110 hurdles in 2010 and the 60 hurdles in 2011.
In the semifinals, only Texas A&M’s Wayne Davis II (13.26) ran a faster time. Riley’s career-best time is 13.28.
Tonight, Riley is scheduled to run in the finals of the 100 meters.
The Illini women’s 1,600 relay, which entered entered Thursday’s semifinals seeded fourth, was disqualified. The foursome of Ashley Kelly, Ryisha Boyd, Latoya Griffith and Ashley Spencer ran an apparent school record of 3:30.07, sixth-fastest in the semis. However, the performance was disallowed.
Ruggeri tops in high bar
Former Illini Paul Ruggeri is tied for first place in high bar after the opening day of the Visa Championships gymnastics meet at St. Louis.
Ruggeri, a member of the UI's 2012 NCAA championship team, scored 15.850 in high bar to help boost him to 10th place in the all-around. Ruggeri also is third in floor exercise.
Illini sophomore-to-be C.J. Maestas is tied for 11th in all-around after scoring a 15.050 in still rings, good for a share of third place.
Illini volunteer assistant coach David Sender stands 13th in all-around. He had the third-highest vault score (16.300) and is tied for fifth in parallel bars.
Illini senior-to-be Yoshi Mori is sixth in pommel horse.
The second and final day of men's competition is Saturday, with national titles and berths in the U.S. Olympic Trials at stake.
Nevolo rates ITA honor
Illini senior Dennis Nevolo was named an Intercollegiate Tennis Association All-American, the organization announced Thursday.
Nevolo earned the honor for the second time in his career after advancing to the Round of 16 in singles at the 2012 NCAA Championships.
The Gurnee native finished his UI career tied for sixth in program history in singles wins (116) and combined wins (211). He also ranked ninth in doubles victories (95). With a career-best 32-10 record in singles as a senior, Nevolo stands 10th on the Illini single-season wins list.
Frosh award to Roper. Illini redshirt freshman Reid Roper was named a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American as a multiple-position player, Collegiate Baseball newspaper announced Wednesday.
He becomes the Illini's third Freshman All-American in five years, joining outfielder Casey McMurray in 2008 and outfielder Willie Argo in 2009.
Roper started all but one game for the Illini this season, including 48 at second base. He also served as the team's closer for much of the year, going 1-0 with a 4.05 ERA and three saves.
At the plate, Roper hit .293, which ranked third on the team.
Guthrie in hunt at St. Jude
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Jeff Maggert and John Merrick shot 4-under 66s on Thursday to share the first-round lead in the St. Jude Classic, leaving U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy 2 strokes back. Former Illini Luke Guthrie was 3 strokes off the pace and tied for 18th.