Redbird Track and Field Heads to Valley Championships
Tori Ziegler
Tori Ziegler

May 14, 2009

NORMAL, Ill. - The Illinois State men's and women's track and field teams, who were picked to finish fifth in the Missouri Valley Conference Pre-Championships coaches poll, head to the 2009 State Farm MVC Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Terre Haute, Ind. The Championships will be held on Marks Field on the campus of Indiana State, Friday-Sunday.

"I would feel better entering the conference if we didn't have to worry about all the injuries," said head coach Elvis Forde. "We don't have Tia (Harvey), Meaka (Brents) and Sam (Watts) running at full strength in the short sprints and they could be big point getters for us. However, I think all the others are in good condition. We will be looking for Morgan Schaefer to get things started for us in the heptathlon and in the high jump. We are going to need everyone that we are taking to have their best performances this weekend, to be a point scorer and medal winner."

The Redbird women finished fifth earlier this year at the indoor championships (Feb. 28-March 1), and finished third last year at the outdoor championships. The ISU women will look to the women's throwers who have demonstrated their dominance throughout the year with senior Samantha Springer in the hammer and discus; and freshmen Tori Ziegler in the shot put and Leigh Petranoff in the javelin. The three women have captured NCAA Mideast Regional qualifying marks in their respective events.

Ziegler currently holds the league's top mark in the shot put with a distance of 49-0.25. Petranoff also holds the Valley's top performance in the javelin with a throw of 146-3.

In other field events, junior Schaefer holds the Valley's top mark in the high jump (5-7.75). Schaefer will be competing in the heptathlon for the third time this season, she currently holds a personal-best score of 4,612 points in the multi-event a score that places her at No. 3 in the Valley.



The distance and middle distance runners will be looking for season-best efforts from a number of individuals. Sophomore Michelle Brunk, who placed second in the 800-meter run last year, will be in contention for all-conference honors once again. Brunk turned in a personal-best mark in the event last weekend at the Billy Hayes Invitational (2:10.22) and is currently fourth on the Valley's best list.

Aisha Praught and Kirsten Lang, have proven to be reliable members of the women's squad and will both be pulling double duty. The duo will get a chance to race in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, Praught will then race the 1,500-meter run and Lang in the 5,000-meter run.

Alia McAfee, a freshman, will lead the women's sprinters. McAfee earned her first all-conference honors indoors in the 400-meter dash and will look to do the same outdoors. The Robins, Ill., native will also be competing in the 200-meter dash and sprint relays.

Chris Kirtz, a long jumper, will look to take the men into action. Kirtz is the only member of the men's squad that has achieved a regional mark in his respective event, the long jump. Kirtz's jump of 24-1 puts him at No. 3 on the Valley's best list entering the championships.

The men's throwers will be lead by freshman Alex Adams who currently holds the fifth-best mark in the MVC in both the discus (163-0) and shot put (51-1). Junior transfer Jason Robbs will look to challenge for a hammer throw title, he currently holds a season-best mark of 185-3.

Matt Mroczynski enters the championships with the Valley's fastest 5,000-meter run with a time of 14:30.40. Mroczynski, a sophomore, will be in contention for the title in two events, the 5K and 10,000-meter run.

The Redbirds will begin competition Friday from Marks Field at 11:30 a.m. CST with Schaefer in the heptathlon. Your online source for Illinois State Athletics, tickets, TRC gifts, multimedia, Redbird merchandise, photos and more.