Smith Claims Second NCAA Runner-up Title, Mills PRs and Takes 11th
June 8, 2012
DES MOINES, Iowa - Junior Brittany Smith claims her second national runner-up performance in the shot put competition with a season's second-best mark of 58-04.75, as the Illinois State track & field teams conclude competition at the 2012 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Drake Stadium. Akil Mills threw four feet further than his previous career best, taking 11th place in the hammer throw with a mark of 208-08.
Head track & field coach Elvis Forde was happy with the way Smith performed this week.
"Brittany has been working real hard all year long to win a title and finally beat Jeneva McCall of Southern Illinois," said Forde. "To finish second in both the shot put and hammer, while setting a new career and school mark at the same time shows just how hard she has been working. She can walk away from here with her head held high knowing she had a tremendous year."
Smith opened the shot put competition with a mark of 54-06.00 putting her in fourth place after the first round of throws. She followed with an improvement to 54-09.50 on her second attempt, which would hold as her best in the prelims. Four other women passed her on their third throws, allowing her to squeak into the finals as the No. 8 seed.
On her first throw of finals, Smith bombed one right down the center of the sector at 58-04.75, moving her into second place. That mark would hold and stand five inches further than third-place finisher Jeneva McCall of Southern Illinois (57-11.75). Tia Brooks of Oklahoma would prevail as the winner, throwing 60-06.00.
The All-American claimed her second-straight runner-up finish of the meet and her third top-five finish at the championships this season, as the other one came indoors where she finished third in the weight. Her mark of 58-04.75 is the second-best is school history.
Prior to Smith in the shot put, Mills started the day off in the hammer as the only other Redbird competing on the day. He opened his competition with a season-best opener of 200-08, moving him into the 12th position headed into the second round of throws. He would better that mark, throwing a career-best 208-08, jumping four spots to eighth. He would throw just 204-05 on his third, failing to better his mark and finish in the top nine to move on to the finals. His mark of 208-08 is the second-best in Illinois State history.
The Redbirds conclude the championships with one national title, two runner-up performances, three first-team All-American certificates and one second-team All-American certificate. This ends the collegiate season for Illinois State, but the Redbirds will see four members move on to compete in the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore., June 22 through July 2 at Hayward Field.
"To come in here and perform how we did across the board at the championships shows how hard the support staff has been working with our athletes," said Forde. "Coach Erik Whitsitt has been working with the throwers all year and deserves most of the credit for how well they performed at the championships. I would be remiss if I didn't give some credit to the strength and conditioning staff for all of the improvements they have made with our athletes. We can look forward to those four competing in the trials in a couple of weeks, giving them a chance to represent their country in the Olympic Games."
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