Spencer, Riley earn top honors

Spencer, Riley earn top honors

PARK RIDGE — Both of the Athlete of the Championship awards from the Big Ten Track & Field meets now reside in Champaign-Urbana.

After a breakout weekend, Ashley Spencer earned the women’s award. No surprise, she also was named Freshman of the Year, the conference announced Tuesday.

Andrew Riley, who was part of two individual crowns and a relay title, earned the men’s honor.

Spencer won two individual titles and helped relays that finished first and second.

“These honors for Ashley are well deserving,” Illini coach Tonja Buford-Bailey said. “She was definitely the shining star of the meet. I think everyone there enjoyed watching her run. As a freshman to break all the records she did, it’s well deserved.”

Along with Spencer, Illinois’ Ryisha Boyd, Latoya Griffith, Ashley Kelly and Stephanie Richartz also were named to the first team. Purdue’s Dani Bunch, a Mahomet-Seymour grad, also earned first-team recognition.

Breeana Coleman, Jesica Ejesieme and Kayla Smith were selected  for the second team.

Riley, who also was named the league’s Track Athlete of the Year, was joined on the men’s first team by Stanley Azie, Jade Ackerman and Brandon Stryganek.

“It’s nice that he is being recognized for his accomplishments,” Illini men’s coach Mike Turk said. “As I have said in the past, Riley is a diamond amongst a lot of gems.”