Azie, Wisslead, Kelly earn All-America honors
DES MOINES, Iowa — Illinois junior Stanley Azie and senior Cody Wisslead are used to conquering adversity, so they weren't about to let a soggy Friday at Drake Stadium put a damper on their NCAA Championships.
Azie placed sixth in the 100-meter final in 10.30 seconds, and Wisslead clocked 51.39 to earn eighth in the 400-meter hurdles, both earning All-America honors.
"Cody and Stanley represented us well in the finals today," UI interim men's coach Mike Turk said. "Stanley has come so far from such humble beginnings. He had his trademark powerful start and is just so competitive. He had an outstanding performance in tough conditions against one of the best ... fields of all time. Cody was able to earn All-America honors in his final collegiate race in the ... hurdles after overcoming so much, especially the injuries that sidelined him through the end of indoors and through half the outdoor season. I told him to believe in himself and trust his coaches. Coach (Tonja Buford-) Bailey did a great job preparing him and showed why she is one of the best."
Azie and Wisslead combined to give the Illini four team points.
In the 100 final, Azie recorded the second-fastest time of his career.
"I've come a long way this year, and I know what I have to do now to get to that next level," Azie said. "I would have liked to do better than sixth place, but I was happy to make the final for the first time and earn All-America honors. I just want to get back here next year and do even better."
After an hour delay because of lightning in the area, Wisslead scored Illinois' first point on the rain-soaked track.
"I was just thankful to be out there and competing with the best of the best," Wisslead said. "Even though I got eighth place, I was just happy to have a lane out there. I was more excited a few days ago when I qualified and knew I was going to be an All-American. Today was a race that I wish I could have back, but I am so happy that I was able to accomplish all my goals that I set forth this year."
In women's action, UI junior Ashley Kelly placed eighth in the 400 final in 53.64, earning first-team All-America honors.
Kelly became the school's first All-American in the event since Celena Mondie-Milner accomplished the feat in 1989.
"I really worked hard this season, so it really meant a lot to me to earn All-America honors," Kelly said. "I was 26th in the region heading into the preliminary round and then came out as an All-American, so I am extremely happy right now. I didn't run my best race today, but it happens, and I will just continue to try to get better for next year."
Kelly scored the UI women's first team point Friday. She earned a spot in the final after posting a personal-best time of 52.71 in Wednesday's semifinal.