ISU Heads East to Ohio for Jesse Owens Classic
Sarah Mussallem
Sarah Mussallem

April 17, 2014

NORMAL, Ill.—The Illinois State men’s and women’s track and field teams travel east to Columbus, Ohio, April 18-19, to compete in the Jesse Owens Classic hosted by Ohio State.

Field events will begin with the women’s javelin at 4 p.m., Friday afternoon with running events to follow, including the 5,000-meter and 1,500-meter races. Saturday is slated for a 10 a.m., start time with pole vault, and running events will follow at 12 p.m.

The Redbirds will be joined by Eastern Michigan, Indiana State, Kent State, Michigan State, Ohio, Ohio State, Toledo and Youngstown State, among others.

“We have the mindset of improving on last weekend,” head coach Elvis Forde said. “I believe our athletes are just as excited after last weekend. They want to continue improving, as they look down the road and see that conference is only a month off. It is important that we keep working hard and have everyone on their ‘A’ game. They need to raise the standard of expectation for themselves and try to make some marks that move them up on the conference list. I think the coaches are getting the athletes as ready as they can. Overall, you go to Ohio State, and it is a place that has a lot of tradition. To be a part of the Jesse Owens meet is pretty special.”



Curt Jensen will open up the competition for the Redbirds, as he looks to continue his successful 2013-14 campaign. The five-time athlete of the week winner will also contest in the shot put and hammer throw competitions. Jensen tossed a personal-best mark of 19.25 meters (63-02.00), breaking his own record of 18.72 meters (61-05.75) in the shot put.

Akil Mills and Jianna Williams will also be featured in the throwing events. Mills looks to make a statement in the men’s hammer throw competition, as he recently placed fourth at the Big Blue Classic in Charleston, Ill., with a mark of 59.46 meters (195-01). Williams captured a first-place personal-best finish at the Sea Ray Relays with a mark of 56.50 meters (185-04) in the women’s hammer throw.

Jeff Bajema and Ryan Rutherford will toe the line on the track Friday night in the men’s 5,000-meter race. Rutherford recently posted a personal-best and record-breaking time of 28:41.23 at the Stanford Invitational to capture Illinois State and Missouri Valley Conference records. The junior distance runner currently sits in the No. 5 spot on the NCAA leaderboard in the event.

Ashley Kamin, Jackie Mink and Kimi Sanden will also race Friday in the women’s 1,500-meter run and finish up Saturday with the 800-meter race.

In the short sprints, Anderson Devonish and Fabian Norgrove look to continue their success on the track. Devonish and Norgrove have led the Redbird relays to four consecutive top-five finishes, including seasonal-best times of 41.42 in the 4x100 and 3:11.59 in the 4x400-meter relay. Ally Christiani, Shandel Ellis and Sarah Mussallem will be the go-to women sprinters competing in the 200- and 400-meter sprints Saturday.

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