Men’s track and field to hit road for 1st time at Indiana Relays

After winning the Illini Classic, the Illinois men’s track and field team will be on the road for the first time this season at the Indiana University Relays in Bloomington, Ind.

“This a big meet for us. This is around the time in the season when the competition is really going to ratchet up, so this is the time for us to begin to take every meet seriously,” head coach Mike Turk said. “The next few meets will be key as prepare for the Big Tens and hope to qualify a few guys to the NCAAs.”

This weekend, two key athletes will be returning from injuries in major events for the Illini. Sophomore Davis Fraker will return to the shot put lineup for the first time this season, and Vanier Joseph, an Eastern Michigan transfer, will also make this return to the 60-meter hurdles after nursing a hamstring injury.

“I haven’t been able to compete over the last week, so it will be good to get back out on the track,” Joseph said. “I have had a very good week of training, so I am excited for the weekend.”

Along with benefiting from the return of two key competitors, Illinois is hoping to see a rebound performance from its sprinters, who were disqualifed at the Illini Classic because of false starts. Brandon Stryganek was unable to race after a false start in the 60-meter dash, and Stephon Pamilton was disqualified prior to the 4x400-meter relay. To minimize the number of false starts, Turk and the coaching staff have placed a greater emphasis on race fundamentals, such as getting out of the starting blocks more effectively.

Turk is also hoping to see continued growth from the shot put squad. A week after he finished runner-up in the event final, sophomore Brandon Noe will compete Saturday hoping to win the title in the shot put. Fraker’s return will be beneficial for Noe, who says they share a great deal of chemistry.

“Davis and I always train and practice together, so it will be a huge confidence boost for me to have him back competing alongside me,” Noe said.

Turk also expects to see another successful performance from the 200-meter squad, following Stryganek’s dominant win and Julian Smith’s second-place finish last week.

“I’m not afraid to say it, but our 200-meter squad might be one of the best in school history,” Turk said. “I’m looking forward to Brandon and Julian putting in another solid effort this weekend.”

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