Track and field ready for first meet of the season

By Rhema Rhea

The track and field team is heading to Champaign for its first meet post-winter break on Saturday as it prepares to compete in the Illini Classic.

U of I’s Illini Classic is an 11-team meet, and Saturday will mark the second time in the same number of seasons the Huskies travel to U of I in their second competition of the indoor season.

NIU is coming off a solid showing from the Dec. 6 Laker Early Bird in Allendale, Mich. It was a non-scoring meet, but eight members of the team had top five finishes. The finishes were led by senior sprinter Rebecca Cronin with a second-out-of-10 finish in the 600-meter run. Her time of 1:33.35 earned her the school record in the event.

“I’m feeling a lot better now and have recovered pretty well from the injury,” Cronin said. “I have been given exercises to do every day to prevent any return injury as much as we can. It was awesome breaking a record in the first meet, especially coming back from an injury.”

Freshman sprinters A’Iesha Irvin-Muhammad, Tahtyana Peer and Alexandria Isom had top five showings out of 29 in the 200-meter dash event during the December opening meet.

Irvin-Muhammad also showed good signs in her first meet, running a 7.69 in the 60-meter dash. The time placed her in second out of 30, falling just short of Loyola’s Breanna Walker’s 7.62.

“It was nice to come out in my first college meet and run the times that I did,” Irvin-Muhammad said. “I [achieved a personal record] in both events over my high school times. It made me realize our training has been going really good, and I can only get better from here. It was only my first meet, so my times can only improve from that.”

The field events group alone has six freshmen on the roster. Junior Sidra Sherrill placed second out of 17 in the shot put. Sherrill had a top toss of 14.38 meters.

Teaberry said the distance event Huskies look ready to go. The distance women did not compete in December as they were recovering from their cross country season, which ended just 21 days prior to the beginning of track season.

“All of our throwers are in the same boat as our sprinters and jumpers,” Teaberry said. “Their work ethic has been great and they have the ability to do great things. So I think if we keep our work ethic in practice and mindset positive we will get some good performances from all of our student athletes.

“Same thing with the distance ladies: They have been working extremely hard, even from cross country and now on to indoor track. Their mindsets just keep growing in a positive direction. We are glad to have our whole group back together again.”

The Fighting Illini, who finished second in the 2013 Outdoor Big 10 Conference Championship, have gotten off to a good season as they had nine women win event titles at last weekend’s Illini Open.

Cronin said the Huskies need to come out strong in this weekend’s first scoring meet on the year.

“Everyone came back really focused and ready to work,” Cronin said. “We know this is when the season really gets under way, and we have to work harder each and every week.”