Despite below-average temperatures, the Northern Illinois University track and field team opened its outdoor season Saturday at the Cougar Classic with a dominating overall performance.
The Huskies easily won the team title with 216 points, outdistancing in-state rival Bradley’s score of 91 and host SIU Edwardsville’s 83. Additionally, NIU captured five event titles and Jasmine Wilson (Elmira, Ontario, Canada/Elmira) posted a conference automatic berth in the javelin.
“The athletes had a solid day of competition considering the cold temperatures,” said NIU head coach Connie Teaberry. “They showed their ability to focus and compete regardless of the conditions. The most impressive was Jasmine Wilson’s MAC-qualifying throw in the javelin. We are sure to see more great efforts in the future.”
Despite not claiming a first-place finish, Wilson made an impressive collegiate debut in the javelin. After fouling on three of her first four throws, the freshman launched a throw of 128-09 (39.25m) to punch her ticket to the conference meet, while finishing fourth overall.
Meanwhile, the five wins came from five different individuals. Latesha Bigby (Hanover, Jamaica/Butler CC) easily took top honors in the 100 hurdles with a run of 14.02, out-distancing SIUE’s LaDonna Caston by fifteen-hundredths of a second. The Jamaican also took second in the 100 meters at 12.17.
The individual who topped Bigby in the 100 meters was A’Iesha Irvin-Muhammad (East St. Louis, Ill./St. Elizabeth Academy), who ran 12.05 to easily claim first. In the 200 meters, the freshman ended up in second place with a team-best time of 25.10.
Julianne Cronin (Bartlett, Ill./Bartlett) finished at the top of the podium in the 400 meters with a 59.04 clip, topping her sister, Rebecca Cronin (Bartlett, Ill./Bartlett), by over a half second. Yet, it was the elder Cronin who claimed the 800 meters, as Rebecca crossed the finish line at 2:19.57.
The fifth and final first-place finisher for the Huskies was Michaela Dwyer (Arlington Heights, Ill./John Hersey), who won the high jump with a personal-best height of 5-03.00 (1.60m). Behind her was teammate Natalie Tarter (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) with a mark of 5-01.00 (1.55m).
Claudette Day (Belleville, Ill./Belleville West) came one spot short of a win in two events. The freshman took second in the 400 hurdles with a time of 1:09.38, while claiming the silver in the long jump at 18-08.50 (5.70m).
Tyra Bickham (Blue Springs, Mo./Blue Springs), Alexandra Schad (Milwaukee, Wis./Milwaukee Lutheran) and Sidra Sherrill (Fort Wayne, Ind./Northrop) also took home second-place finishes. Bickham tossed 44-05.25 (13.54m) in the shot put, Schad leaped 34-06.75 (10.53m) in the long jump and Sherrill reached 149-00 (45.43m) in the discus.
For the relays, the Huskies finished second in both. Brittany Smith (Cincinnati, Ohio/Withrow University), Bigby, Peer (Milwaukee, Wis./King) and Irvin-Muhammad teamed up to run 47.88 in the 4×100 relay, while Irvin-Muhammad, Rebecca Cronin, Peer and Julianne Cronin crossed the line at 4:02.74 in the 4×400 relay.
The Huskies continue with outdoor competition next weekend when they split for Texas and North Carolina. Most of the team will go to the Lone Star State to compete in the Texas Relays and Bobcat Invitational Thursday, March 27, through Saturday, March 29. Meanwhile, the distance group will compete in the Raleigh Relays Friday and Saturday.
For more information on NIU track and field and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.