Mon, May 26: Long-awaited duel a delight

Mon, May 26: Long-awaited duel a delight

   CHAMPAIGN  It''s the duel that''s been years in the making: Reggie Torian vs. Tony Simmons.

   On Sunday, it finally came off. And more than lived up to its billing.

   The two Wisconsin seniors returned to their home state this weekend for the Big Ten Outdoor Track and Field Championships and for the first time in their careers squared off in the same race.

   "A lot of people were waiting for this," Torian said.

   Waiting since their high school days, when Thornwood''s Torian ruled the hurdle events at the 1993 Class AA state meet and Chicago St. Rita''s Simmons did the same in the 100 and 200 meters.

   "This has been talked about since 1993," Torian said. "But I''ve never run the 100 and, of course, he''s never run the hurdles."

   However, both ran in the 100 finals Sunday, and the difference at the finish line was tissue-paper thin. Each was clocked in 10.29 seconds, with Simmons getting the nod in a photo finish.

   From their reaction, it was clear each felt there were no losers, as Torian and Simmons gleefully hugged and shouted after the race.

   "We kind of expected we''d take 1-2, but we didn''t know who was going to win," Torian said.

   The duel took shape last weekend when Torian asked UW coach Ed Nuttycombe if there were any other events he could enter to help the Badgers'' cause.

   "And he was like, ''Yeah, I can throw you into the 100,''Ê" Torian said.

Pearman OK.

   Barry Pearman''s right knee was bruised but suffered no structural damage when the Illini senior fell during Saturday''s steeplechase.

   The Georgetown native said Sunday he expects to return to the track in 5-6 days in preparation for the NCAA Championships in early June.

   Pearman was on crutches early Sunday, but he got the OK from doctors later in the day to discard them.

   "I''m really disappointed," said Pearman, who entered Saturday''s race with the third-best regular season time in the field. "But on the other side, it''s not damaged, so I''m still going to have my shot at nationals. It''s just going to make nationals that much more important to do well."

Virgin returns.

   Former Illini track and cross-country great Craig Virgin, who suffered multiple injuries in a two-car accident near St. Louis on Jan. 29, was in Champaign this weekend for the Big Ten meet.

   "I do have a goal of running again," said Virgin, who had surgery on both ankles and also needed treatment for heart arrhythmia.

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