Illini Track and Field Begins Outdoor Season in Miami

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. –The Illinois men’s and women’s and field teams are on a spring break trip for their first meet of the outdoor season in Coral Gables, Fla., for the Hurricane Invitational on March 15-16.

The and field squads recently closed out the indoor season this past week with the NCAA Indoor Championships, in which senior Aiden Ouimet recorded the highest-ever finish in the heptathlon for an Illinois athlete (fourth). He was the first All-American – and the second in school history – in the event since Jonathan Wells did so in 2017.

Five Illini women walked away with All-America honors, which tied the program originally set in 1995: juniors Bara Sajdokova (fifth, high jump), Tori Thomas (sixth, pole vault) and Darja Sopova (sixth, triple jump), freshman Elizabeth Ndudi (seventh, long jump) and redshirt junior Rose Yeboah (eighth, high jump).

These five women positioned Illinois in 19th place with 12.5 points, the program’s highest finish since 2013, when the Illini claimed 14th. Ouimet scored five points by himself to place 38th, which is the men’s highest finish since 2017’s 30th-place mark.

Turning to outdoor season, these athletes and many others will look to build off their indoor success. Outdoor season also brings new events where certain athletes in the Orange and Blue finally get to showcase their talents.

One of those newcomers is freshman thrower Eleftherios Kontonikola, who committed to the Illini men’s team last season but missed the whole year due to injury. Another new outdoor athlete for the Illini women’s squad is junior hammer thrower Phethisang Makhethe. She spent the last two seasons at New Mexico State and is set to make her Illini debut this weekend in the hammer throw .

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