Mills Takes Home Valley Title on First Day of Championships
Kellly McShea
Kellly McShea

March 1, 2014



CEDAR FALLS, IowaAkil Mills captures Illinois State’s first individual title of the 2013-14 Missouri Valley Conference Championship in the men’s weight throw competition, finishing with a toss of 21.19m (69-06.25) Saturday at the University of Northern Iowa Dome.

The Illinois State men’s and women’s track and field teams wrapped up its first day of competition Saturday with multiple personal-best marks and all-conference honors, as the men’s squad currently sits in second place, while the women’s team presently stands in fourth.

“It was the first day of championships, and I think the team is very happy on both sides,” head coach Elvis Forde said. “I think we had some outstanding performances today. Our men are very excited because we have not been in this position for a long time, but they competed very well today. We had Akil winning the weight throw, so that was a great for him. Overall, the attitude and excitement from the team today made them compete very at a high level. It was evident from the start of the morning and just spiraled from there on.”

Jianna Williams took home the first all-conference honor of the day, as she finished third in the weight throw with a toss of 19.44m (63-09.50).

Five distance runners advanced to the mile finals, with Kristen Zillmer leading the Redbirds in the first heat with a mile time of 4:57.90. Kelly McShea and Ashley Kamin also advanced from the first heat with times of 4:58.10 and 5:01.29, respectively. Kaley Ummel and Haley Goers represented ISU in the second heat, finishing with mile times of 5:08.59 and 5:08.60, respectively. Zillmer also advanced to the 800-meter finals tomorrow, earning a season-best and top time of 2:11.85.



The women’s Distance Medley Relay team of Goers, Ally Christiani, Ummel and McShea finished first with a time of 11:50.80 to earn All-Valley accolades. The foursome captured the third title for the Illinois State DMR relay in the last four years. Shandel Ellis and Christiani made a statement in the 400-meter sprint, qualifying for the final race with times of 56.22 and 56.69, respectively. Ellis finished third in the 200-meter sprint with a personal-best time of 24.30, earning All-Valley accolades.

Rachael Brewer narrowly missed all-conference in the 5K, as she finished fourth with a 5,000-meter time of 16:49.08.

On the men’s side, Ryan Rutherford raced in one of the most exciting finishes of the day, earning All-Valley honors with a second-place 5,000-meter time of 14:14.24. Rutherford finished one second behind Brogan Austin of Drake and two seconds ahead of the 2013 MVC cross country champion John Mascari of Indiana State. 

“Ryan Rutherford ran a beautiful 5,000-meter race and finished second to a great Brogan Austin,” Forde said. “Those three guys that were neck-and-neck in the 5K are very special, and to see Ryan get second is a tremendous boost for the team.”

Competing alongside Mills, Curt Jensen finished fifth overall in the men’s weight throw with a personal-best mark of 19.58m (64-03.00), besting his former mark by nearly two-feet.

Chase Pavelonis put points on the board for the Redbird squad, finishing third in the men’s pole vault competition with a personal-best vault of 5.00m (16-04.75). Pavelonis made it look easy, clearing 4.90m (16-00.75) and 5.00m on his first attempt, but failed to clear 5.10m (16-08.75), earning a third-place finish and all-conference honors. Kevin Fisch vaulted to an eighth-place Valley finish with a height of 4.80m (15-09.00) to give ISU a point.


CJ Hamilton and Ryan Bybee both advance to the men’s finals of the 800-meter race, finishing with preliminary times of 1:53.29 and 1:55.09, respectively, while Dave Eckhart will represent Illinois State in the finals of the men’s mile. Eckhart finished third overall to qualify with a time of 4:14.78.

Freshman Anderson Devonish was disqualified for a false start in the men’s 400-meter dash.

The final day of the MVC Championships begin at 9:30 a.m. Sunday with the mutli-events.

Fans wishing to follow along with ISU track and field can do so at the conclusion of the meet on or @ISU_Track_XC. Your online source for Illinois State Athletics tickets, Weisbecker Scholarship Fund gifts, multimedia, Redbird merchandise, photos and more.