Redbirds Ready for MVC Championships
Feb. 28, 2014
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – The Illinois State men’s and women’s track and field teams head to Cedar Falls, Iowa, March 1-2, for the 2014 Missouri Valley Conference Indoor Track & Field Championship meet, hosted by Northern Iowa. The meet will begin at 9:30 a.m. both days with the multi-events.
The Illinois State men are tabbed fifth in the pre-championship poll with 24 points. Indiana State is rated first with 46 points, followed closely by Wichita State with 42 points. The women’s squad is slated fourth with a total of 48 points. The Indiana State women are tabbed first with 75 points and Southern Illinois is picked to finish second with 71 points.
Elvis Forde seeks his first conference title in his 12-year stint with the Redbirds, after a sixth-place finish from the men in 2013 and a third-place finish for the women’s squad. The closest the team has come to a championship was in 2004, when the men finished second behind Northern Iowa, 146-137.
“Obviously, conference is a time we look forward to,” Forde said. “The nice thing this year is we look really good on paper, and we are excited about that. I’m looking forward to our two teams. I think we have the capability of being in the top-three or four on both sides. We are looking forward to the meet, and we are looking for our athletes to move up even further on the performance chart. This is going to be a very closely contested meet, in regards to points between all schools.”
The distance crew continues to set high standards, as Ryan Rutherford holds three top-five Valley times in the distance events, including a 3,000-meter time of 8:16.71 and a 5K time of 14:10.88. Rutherford will be joined in the 3K by teammates Dave Eckhart, Tyler Morse and Sean Senf. Eckhart will also toe the line in the mile run, holding a top-10 MVC spot with a personal-best time of 4:11.18. The distance crew also holds the top-time in the Valley in the Distance Medley Relay with a season-best time of 10:01.10 set at the Iowa State Classic.
2013 800-meter outdoor Valley champion CJ Hamilton looks to continue his success in the event, holding the second best time in the MVC at 1:51.32, while Anderson Devonish looks to earn his first all-conference nod in the 400-meter event, as he currently sits in the No. 2 spot on the Valley best list with a time of 48.20.
The Illinois State duo of Curt Jensen and Akil Mills will highlight the throwing events, as they each hold the top-spot on the Valley leaderboard in their respective events. Jensen’s record-breaking throw of 20.29m (66-07.00) in the shot put at Eastern Illinois’ Early Bird Invite placed him in the No. 3 spot on the NCAA leaderboard. Mills’ personal-best toss of 21.23 (69-08.00) in the weight throw at the Don Kirby Invite currently stands as the No. 12 spot on the NCAA leaderboard.
On the women’s side, the distance crew will look to continue its success on the track and will be highlighted by Kristen Zillmer in the 800-meter race and mile run and Rachael Brewer in the 3,000-meter and 5K events. Zillmer currently holds the eighth-best 800-meter time in the Valley at 2:12.05 and the third-best Valley time in the mile at 4:50.50, while Brewer currently stands in the No. 3 spot in both the 3K and 5,000-meter races.
Shandel Ellis currently holds two top-three Valley times, with a No. 2 spot in the 200-meter race with a time of 24.45 set at the Iowa State Classic and a third-place standing in the 400-meter sprint with a time of 54.93. Ellis looks to continue former Redbird Sade Sealy’s prowess in the 400-meter event, as Sealy won four-straight Valley titles in the event.
Julia Ott will be the highpoint for the Redbirds in the pole vault, as she already broke the ISU record earlier this year, vaulting to a mark of 4.05m (13-03.50). Ott will look for her first all-conference honor this weekend, currently holding the No. 2 spot on the MVC best list.
Jianna Williams will contest in the weight throw and shot put this weekend, holding the No. 3 best mark on the Valley list with a personal-best toss in the weight throw of 19.45m (63-09.75) set at the Don Kirby Invite.
Fans wishing to follow the Redbirds can do so at the conclusion of each day’s events on www.GoRedbirds.com or on Twitter @ISU_Track_XC.