Redbird Relays Dominate on Day One at MVC Championships

Feb. 26, 2011




CEDAR FALLS, Iowa - The Illinois State distance medley relay teams both finished in the top three to earn All-Valley honors on the first day of competition at the 2011 State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Indoor Track & Field Championships Saturday at the UNI Dome. After the first day of competition and five events scored, the ISU women sit in third place with 28 points, while the men's team has 16 points and is currently in fifth place.

The women's distance medley relay team of Kristen Zillmer, Amanda Albrecht, Jil Kerkman and Jess Husted bested the competition and earned a conference championship in the event by running a time of 11:53.46 to finish ahead of Indiana State and Wichita State in second and third places, respectively. The men's team of Erik Stanton, Yosef Tewolde, Nick Geyer and Steven Regan also earned all-conference honors after finishing the race in 10:08.17 to take second place overall, behind Southern Illinois (10:04.54).

"It is always good to have a championship on the first day of competition and our women's distance medley relay team ran very well," said head track and field coach Elvis Forde. "At this time of the year it isn't about how fast one can run in the relay, but who you put on the team to maximize as individuals and be an effective part of the relay team. In the men's distance medley relay, we finished second. I believed we had a chance to win the event, but it got away from us at the end. However, the men ran well and did a good job. Those two performances will give us a lot of momentum heading into Sunday."



In other finals action on the women's side, Aisha Praught (9:49.90) crossed the finish line in third place in the 3,000-meter run to earn All-Valley honors, while Samantha Bluske (9:55.40) finished the event in sixth place. Lita Wynne just missed all-conference honors in the long jump, as she took fourth place with a mark of 18-08.00, while Hilary Hobler (18-06.50) was sixth. In the weight throw Brittany Smith (60-11.25) and Tori Ziegler (57-09.75) took eighth and 10th places, respectively. Rounding out the action in the finals was Jenna Combs, who finished 13th in the pentathlon with a score of 2,836 points. She achieved the score thanks to a second-place finish in the 800-meter run after completing the event in 2:22.58.

Several other Redbirds moved onto Sunday's finals in their respective events with strong performances in the preliminary rounds. Meaka Brents (7.62) and Tia Harvey (7.63) qualified for Sunday's finals in the 60-meter dash, while Alia McAfee (25.02), Sade Sealy (25.07) and Harvey (25.29) all qualified for the finals in the 200-meter dash. Sealy had the top-qualifying time in the 400-meter dash (56.10) and will be joined by McAfee (56.41) in Sunday's final. Kerkman will represent ISU in the 800-meter run (2:14.08).

Like the women's team, the men's team picked up strong final performances during the first day of competition. In the men's final 3,000-meter run, John Navarro (8:33.37) and Jon Roberts (8:42.43) crossed the finish line in seventh and ninth places, respectively. Mike Ziegler cleared a personal-best height of 15-07.25 to finish sixth in the pole vault. Curt Jensen (57-07.50), Akil Mills (56-10.25) and Spencer Prince (55-11.25) finished seventh through ninth in the weight throw.

In preliminary action, Kayode Adegoke qualified for the finals in the 60-meter dash (6.94) and the 200-meter dash (22.13), while Fabian Norgrove will run in the finals in the 200-meter dash (22.19) and the 400-meter dash (49.44). Ben Sparkman (6.97) qualified for the finals in the 60-meter dash. Mat Smoody will be the lone Redbird in the finals for the 800-meter run (1:54.12), while Kendric Smith (8.15) qualified for the finals in the 60-meter hurdles.

"With a majority of the finals on Sunday, we are expecting to score very well on the women's side," said Forde. "We are excited about the women's chances tomorrow, and the women competing are excited for their events and the opportunity to score crucial points and possibly finish the day with a trophy. The men have to be ready for Sunday, but some of them have a chance to do well in the finals."

Action will resume Sunday with the completion of the men's heptathlon at 9:30 a.m., followed by the women's triple jump at 11:30 a.m., at the UNI Dome. Your online source for Illinois State Athletics, tickets, Weisbecker Scholarship Fund gifts, multimedia, Redbird merchandise, photos and more.