NCAA or bust
The NCAA Indoor championships are being held today and Saturday at Fayetteville, Ark. Here is a rundown on Illinois' entries:
60-meter dash – Kerry Ann Richards and Aleisha Lattimer.
Illini outlook: Richards enters with the ninth-best time and Lattimer is 17th. Both are returning All-Americans in the event, finishing sixth and seventh, respectively.
200 dash – Lattimer.
Illini outlook: Again, Lattimer has the 17th-best time. She qualified for the race in 1999, but didn't reach the finals. Timing might work against Lattimer, who could have three races tonight.
Mile – Tara Mendozza.
Illini outlook: She finished ninth in the 800 at last year's meet. Her aching legs made the move to the mile a necessity. If Mendozza can keep the lead early, her 800 speed should be an advantage the final laps.
400 dash – Sherman Armstrong.
Illini outlook: Ohio State's Andrew Pierce is the only other Big Ten runner in the field of 18. Illinois hasn't placed in the NCAA Indoor 400 since Dorian Green took fourth in '95.
800 run – Jason Van Swol.
Illini outlook: With the No. 14 time in the field, the sophomore is the lone Big Ten representative. The event was one of the best for the Illini in the '90s, Marko Koers winning the title in '92 and placing his other three years. Bobby True was third and fifth the last two years.
4 x 400 relay – Armstrong, Babatunde Ridley, Tyrone Jones and Kendall McCroy.
Illini outlook: With coach Willie Williams in his final year, the team wants to send him out with a win. Illinois is the only school from a "northern" state to make the field. Running in the slower second heat could be a boost for the Illini, who won't have the traffic of the loaded first group.