Thomas Vaults into History Books at Big Ten Outdoor Championships

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – The Illinois men’s and women’s track and field teams entered the first day of competition at the 2022 Big Ten Outdoor Championships on Friday (May 13) at the University of Minnesota Track and Field Stadium, highlighted by a historic performance from freshman pole vaulter Tori Thomas.

Thomas was down to her final attempt at the height of 3.83m before rattling off five-consecutive clean vaults to launch her into the top three of the event, finishing third and bringing home bronze with a personal-best mark of 4.23m. The freshman’s mark of 4.23m also ranks as second-best all time in program history, just behind program record holder Stephanie Richartz, who registered a jump of 4.45m in 2015.

In the decathlon, junior Aiden Ouimet positioned himself into seventh place halfway through the event. Ouimet opened with a fourth-place finish in the 100m with a time of 10.94, before posting back-to-back fifth-place finishes in the long jump (6.68m) and 400m (50.33). In the shot put, a fourth-place finish with a 13.33m mark coupled with a 1.85m, ninth-place performance in the high jump landed Ouimet with 3769 points to round out the day.

In the heptathlon, freshman Kenli Nettles sits in the top five after a strong first-half outing. In the 100m hurdles, Nettles placed seventh with a time of 14.34, before taking first in the high jump with a mark of 1.71m. A season-best toss in the shot put of 11.17m was good for a sixth-place finish, as a time of 25.43 in the 200m resulted in the same placement. Nettles ended her day of competition with 3252 points.

Along with strong multi-athlete outings, four Illini qualified for finals, led off by freshman DeVontae Ford with a ninth-place finish overall in the 400m hurdles, clocking in at 51.93, to qualify for the event’s finals on Sunday. The 1500m race saw a trio of Illini qualifiers, including junior Olivia Howell and freshman Halle Hill. Howell ran a strategic race, finishing second in her heat with a time of 4: 30.46, while Hill finished seventh overall and fifth in her heat with a time of 4: 23.38. Senior Jon Davis cruised to victory in the men’s section, placing first overall with a time of 3: 44.22.

Personal Bests
Women’s Pole Vault
Tori Thomas ยป4.23m

Illinois Scoring Athletes
Women’s Pole Vault: Tori Thomas // 4.23m // 3rd place // 6 points

Advancing to the Finals
Men’s 400m Hurdles: DeVontae Ford // 51.93
Women’s 1500m: Olivia Howell // 4: 30.46
Women’s 1500m: Halle Hill // 4: 23.38
Men’s 1500m: Jon Davis // 3: 44.22

Up Next
The Illini continues the action on Saturday (May 14) with day two of the Big Ten Outdoor Championships. Saturday’s events begin with the decathlon’s 110m hurdles at 10 am CT.

For more Fighting Illini Track & Field news, stay tuned to FightingIllini.com and follow @IlliniTrackXC on social media: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook.

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