EUGENE, Ore. — The senior led off.
The freshman finished it.
In between the junior and sophomore kept the school-record pace intact.
Senior Marissa Golliday, junior Ahlivia Spencer, sophomore Ashley Spencer and freshman Morolake Akinosun not only established a school record for the Illinois women’s track and field team in the 1,600-meter relay on Thursday night during the semifinals of the NCAA championships at Heyward Field, but the group qualified for Saturday’s finals after clocking in at 3 minutes, 30.54 seconds.
Ashley Spencer, the defending 400-meter NCAA champion, came through with the fastest split among all the runners in the relay, running her leg in 50.71 seconds.
The time breaks a record of 3:30.76 set by the same four runners less than two weeks ago at the NCAA West Preliminary Round in Austin, Texas.
Akinosun, who will race in Saturday’s 100-meter dash finals, did not qualify for the finals in the 200, finishing with a time of 23.52.
Olivia Ekpone of Texas A&M had the final qualifying time of 22.91.
On the men’s side, senior Hunter Mickow closed out his career in the finals of the 10,000 by placing 15th in 30:09.21 to earn second-team All-America honors.
The Illini’s 1,600- relay team of DJ Zahn, Cam Viney, Juan Green and Stephon Pamilton qualified for Saturday’s finals with a time of 3:04.97.