Redbirds Set for 2014 Outdoor Valley Championships
May 15, 2014
NORMAL, Ill.—The Illinois State men’s and women’s track and field teams head south to Southern Illinois for the Missouri Valley Conference Championships Friday through Sunday.
The men’s team was slated to finish fourth in The Valley polls with 36 total points. Wichita State was selected as the men’s favorite with six first-place votes and 62 points. The Sycamores of Indiana State were right behind the Shockers with two first-place votes and 58 points. Curt Jensen, Akil Mills, Fabian Norgrove and Ryan Rutherford will set the pace for the Redbird men’s squad, as they all rank in the top-three of their respective events.
On the women’s side, the Redbirds were picked to finish sixth with 38 points. Indiana State and Wichita State were again the favorites for the top-two spots. The Sycamores, however, claimed seven first-place votes with 79 points, while the Shockers tabbed two first-place votes and 79 points. Shandel Ellis, Julia Ott, Jianna Williams and Kristen Zillmer look to pace the Redbird women, also ranking in the top-three on The Valley best-list in their respective events.
Last time at the MVC Championships Brittany Smith and Tim Glover opened up the weekend by claiming Valley titles in the hammer throw and javelin, respectively. Smith won the hammer throw on her third attempt with a toss of 66.71 meters (218-10), while Glover threw a mark of 78.33 meters (257-00). His first throw stood as his best and was 25-feet, one-inch further than Jon Rizzo of Wichita State to claim the javelin title.
The steeplechase crew of Kelly McShea, Elise Sigg and Kristen Zillmer finished one-two-three to earn All-Valley honors, while Sade Sealy became just the second person in Valley history to win her eighth-straight title in the 400-meter dash, running to a career-best and Valley-leading time of 52.01.
In his 12th season at the helm of the Redbirds, head track and field coach Elvis Forde seeks his first Missouri Valley Conference title, as he has led ISU squads to two runner-up finishes. The closest came in 2004 when the Redbirds finished behind Northern Iowa by nine points.
Jensen and Mills will look for their second Valley titles of the 2013-14 track and field campaign, both earning first-place marks in the shot put and weight throw at the MVC indoor track and field championships. The duo also holds the top-spot on the MVC best-list in their respective events. This outdoor season alone, Jensen has earned four-consecutive Missouri Valley Conference Athlete of the Week honors and currently holds the MVC and Illinois State record in the shot put with a mark of 20.33 meters (66-08.50). Jensen holds the third-best mark on the NCAA leaderboard. During this 2013-14 track and field season, Mills has earned All-American accolades and was named the Most Outstanding Male Field Athlete at the MVC indoor championships.
Also in the throwing events, Williams currently ranks No. 3 in the shot put on The Valley best-list and sits in the No. 1 position in the hammer throw after a career-best mark of 57.25 meters (187-10) at the Redbird Invite. Williams is looking for her first MVC title, after earning a third-place finish in the weight throw at the indoor conference championships.
Recently being named one of Flotrack’s 2014 NCAA’s biggest surprises, Rutherford looks to notch his first Valley first-place title of his own. Rutherford holds the No. 1 slot in both the men’s 5K and 10K. The Bloomington, Ill., native also holds the MVCrecord in the 10K with a stunning performance at Stanford, clocking a time of 28:41.23.
Zillmer looks to make her senior season one to remember, as she currently sits in the No. 1 spot on the Missouri Valley Conference best-list in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Zillmer clocked a season-best time of 10:18.81 at the Stanford Invitational. She holds a personal-best time of 10:04.51 ran at the 2013 NCAA Regional meet.
Friday’s events will begin with the men’s decathlon at 10 a.m., while the field events are slated for a 12 p.m. start and the running events will begin at 6 p.m.
GoRedbirds.com: Your online source for Illinois State Athletics tickets, Weisbecker Scholarship Fund gifts, multimedia, Redbird merchandise, photos and more.