Illini tuning up on track

Illini tuning up on track

By: Dan Krier

By: Dan Krier

By: Dan Krier

By: Dan Krier

   URBANA  Thanks to several stellar performances, the Illinois men''s track and field team was able to use Saturday''s Illini Classic meet as an effective tuneup for next weekend''s Big Ten Indoor Championships.

   Illinois'' centerpiece was All-America runner Bobby True.

   True, a senior who placed third at last year''s NCAA indoor championship in the 800 meters, set a school record in the 600 meters in 1 minute, 17.76 seconds.

   The time was the fourth-fastest ever run at the collegiate level.

   "I came out (in the 600) about a second faster than I wanted to, and I paid for it the last 100 (meters)," True said. "But the way it all ended up, it was fine.

   "And I can''t be more satisfied with what happened today."

   True also pointed out that the Illini, who had a meet-best seven winners in 17 events, did exactly what they had to in building confidence for the conference championships.

   "We couldn''t have had a better meet for the Big Ten meet coming up," he said.

   "I have all the confidence in our team that if we have a good meet, not necessarily an exceptional meet, we should walk out of there happy with ourselves and possibly with a Big Ten title."

   Other Illini men''s winners included Scott McClennan in the 3,000 meters (8:22.95), Tyrone Jones in the 400 (47.99), and the 4x400 relay (3:14.01) run by True, Jones, Randy Gillon and Sherman Armstrong.

   Armstrong also won the 60-meter hurdles in 7.88. The time provisionally qualified him for the NCAA indoor championships.

   George McDonald-Ashford, who completed his eligibility for the football team last fall, showed off his quickness in the 60-meter dash, winning in 6.78. He had not run with the track team since 1995, deciding to concentrate only on football.

   McDonald-Ashford pointed out the importance of meets such as the Illini Classic.

   "This is the final tuneup that you get to make any corrections in your racing before it really counts," he said.

   Illini men''s head coach Gary Wieneke said Saturday''s performances will go a long way in instilling confidence at the best time of the year.

   "For the most part, we had a lot of significant advancements and positives here," he said. "It''s really a positive steppingstone going into next week."

   The Illini women''s squad also had its share of victors Saturday.

   Candace Nicholson was the Illini''s only winning female runner. She took the 800 run in 2:10.03. Camee Williams won the high jump (5 feet, 7 inches), and Tisha Ponder took both the long jump (18-8) and the triple jump (39-0 1/4).

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