Back at Home, Track and Field to Host Redbird Invitational
Sophomore Blake Gish
Sophomore Blake Gish

Jan. 19, 2007

NORMAL, Ill. - The Illinois State track and field team will be spending the weekend competing in familiar territory, as the `Birds will be hosting the Redbird Invitational Saturday at Horton Field House. The three-team meet, including Western Illinois and Illinois-Chicago, is slated to begin at 11 a.m., with field events kicking off the day of competition.

The Redbirds are back at home after participating in a dual meet last weekend at Indiana State. The Redbird Invitational is the second indoor meet that ISU will host in the early stages of the 2006-07 season, with one more home meet scheduled for the outdoor season.

Head coach Elvis Forde is glad to be back at home this weekend and feels that with the spring semester starting the Redbirds will be able to concentrate on improving as a team.

"With everybody back at school, I think our kids are starting to become more focused," said Forde. "I feel that the student-athletes have better focus when they are back at school, because they will have an organized daily schedule and a routine to follow. The important thing for our team is that we will have two weeks of practice under our belt, which I think makes a big difference in regards to how we will perform this weekend.

"Plus, it doesn't hurt that we will be at home," added Forde. "I think that the home atmosphere always gives the kids extra motivation to perform well. I expect our kids to get back into the groove and look like real competitive athletes."

Devon Williams was one of the key performers for the women's squad last weekend at Indiana State. The Oswego, Ill., native won both the 60-meter (7.76) and 200-meter dashes (25.33). Sophomore Samantha Springer also placed first in the shot put (42-04), while finishing second in the weight throw (50-11.50). The women's 4x400-meter relay team will look to repeat its early season success, as it took first at Indiana State with a time of 3:57.79.

While it still early in the indoor season, Forde feels for Williams, the best is yet to come, as the junior has already claimed one Missouri Valley Conference Athlete of the Week honor this season.

"Right now, Devon is so much ahead of everybody else in terms of her ability," said Forde. "She is a top sprinter, and when you are a top sprinter and the level of competition is not there, it can look easy. I think it is easy for her because we are just trying to get her back into the groove of running. Devon is a special competitor and will be a very special competitor for Illinois State and the Missouri Valley Conference. It is just a testament to the ability she has to perform in the 60-meters and 200-meters."

Sophomore Sam Watts was the only Redbird to claim a victory last weekend on the men's squad, winning the long jump with a score of 22-7.75. The Redbirds will also look to sophomore Blake Gish to perform well in the throws, sophomore Mike Richardson and freshman Jordan Anderson in the middle distance events and Alex Straughn and Olutola Fakehinde in the jumps.

The Redbirds will travel to participate in the Edmonds Cup on January 27, in Lafayette, Ind. The meet is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. EST.