Forde Signs Nine Track and Field Athletes for 2008-09 Season
Tori Ziegler, thower from Fox Lake, Ill.
Tori Ziegler, thower from Fox Lake, Ill.

Feb. 15, 2008

NORMAL, Ill. - Illinois State head track and field coach Elvis Forde announced the newest additions to the Redbird track and field program, as nine student-athletes have signed National Letters of Intent (NLI's) to continue their education and athletic careers at Illinois State.

The Illinois State track and field team's 2008-09 recruiting class includes: Alex Adams (Bedford, Texas), Brittany Bullard (Logansport, Ind.), Blake Brooks (Peoria,Ill.), Rich Eber (Oak Lawn,Ill.), Jil Kerkman (Union Grove, Wis.), Ben Pratt (Macomb, Ill.), Aisha Praught (Moline, Ill.), Hanna Query (Mahomet, Ill.) and Tori Ziegler (Fox Lake,Ill.).

Forde is excited about the talented athletes that will be joining the program.

"I think that we are bringing in a lot of kids that are going to bring a lot to the table," said Forde. "We are looking to recruit athletes that will be the top-echelon in the league in all of the events that we are recruiting. I think that this whole bunch of athletes will bring the high caliber performances that we expect.

"The coaches have done a great job recruiting some great athletes and we are not even done, this is just the early portion of our recruiting class. There are still some names out there that we are waiting on to make commitments."

All incoming recruits will join the Redbird squad in the fall of 2008. Bellow is an alphabetical list and comments from Forde on the incoming student-athletes.

Alex Adams Bedford, Texas | Covenant Christian Academy | Throws
Threw the shot put for a personal-best distance of 59-01.50 feet at the Carl Lewis Invite in Houston, Texas Jan. 19, 2008 ... currently owns a top-15 throw in the nation in the shot put ... recorded a personal-best discus throw of 180 feet in 2007 ... was also a defensive lineman on the undefeated Cougar football team (13-0) ... recorded 74 tackles and 15 sacks his senior year.

Forde on Adams...
"Alex is a good find for our program. At this time, he currently holds one of the top shot put throws in the nation, and has been throwing some huge distances in practices. He is a quality athlete and we needed someone with his body type to be a part of our throwing section."



Brittany Bullard Logansport, Ind. | Logansport High School | Pole Vault
Placed eighth at the 2007 Indiana State meet her junior year launching a distance of 11-03 feet ... member of the National Honor Society ... three-year member of her high school gymnastics team ... has competed in gymnastics for the past 12 years ... intends to major in nursing.

Forde on Bullard...
"Brittany will join our program with some very strong credentials. Her high school track and field coach believes that she will pole vault over 12 feet as she heads into the spring track and field season. We hope that by the time she enters our program she will consistently be reaching 12 feet."

Blake Brooks Peoria, Ill. | Dunlap High School | Distance | Cross Country
One of three juniors to make the finals of the 2007 Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Championships in the 1,600-meter run (12th) ... clocked a personal-best time of 4:15.30 in the prelims, and ran a time of 4:21 in the finals of the 1,600 at the State meet ... recorded a personal-best time of 9:20 in the 3,200-meter run to qualify for the 2007 state meet ... won his regional to qualify as an individual for the 2007 IHSA Cross Country Championship ... holds a personal-best time of 14:55 for three miles in cross country.

Forde on Brooks...
"I believe that Blake is going to be a strong middle distance runner for us. Last year, he had an outstanding track and field season and we believe that he can do big things for us in the mile event. He will bring depth and balance so we can strengthen that area."

Rich Eber Oak Lawn, Ill. | Brother Rice High School | Distance | Cross Country
Finished in 10th place with a time of 14:36 at the 2007 Illinois High School Association (IHSA) 3A Cross Country Championship ... placed second at the 2007 track and field sectional meet in the 3,200-meter run with a time of 9:25.06 ... 2007 IHSA state qualifier in the 3,200-meters ... finished with a time of 9:29.14 at the 2007 Illinois Prep Top Times (IPPT) indoor meet.

Forde on Eber...
"Rich will perform well in the longer distances. He is a talented young man that will do well in cross country, and in the 3,200- and 5,000-meters in track. We hope that a guy like Rich will be able to come in here and make his mark on the program rather quickly. He is a confident young man, and hopefully he comes in here and realizes that he is a Division I runner. We are going to need him to perform every single time if we want to win the cross country title."

Jil Kerkman Union Grove, Wis. | Union Grove High School | Distance
2007 Wisconsin State Division 2 Track and Field Championship runner-up in the 800-meter run (2:16.58) ... anchored the 4x800-meter relay team that won the 2007 state title with a time of 9:36.64 ... also ran cross country ... intends to major in physical therapy.

Forde on Kerkman...
"Jil is one of those prospects that will bring balance, and will help the middle distance team improve. We are going to need that as the conference continues to grow and get stronger in the distance events."

Ben Pratt Macomb, Ill. | Macomb High School | Jumps
Competed at the IHSA state meet sophomore and junior year ... placed second at the 2007 IHSA state meet in the triple jump (45-05.50) and seventh in the long jump (22-01.50) ... placed seventh at the 2006 state meet in the triple jump ... qualified for the 2006 state meet in the 110-meter hurdles ... two-time sectional and one time state qualifier in golf ... member of the basketball team all four years ... has two brothers, Bryan and David ... Bryan competed in track and field at Illinois and David is a junior football player at Northern Illinois.

Forde on Pratt...
"Ben is a big kid with some length and size. He has already surpassed 22 feet in the long jump and his goal this year is to be one of the top jumpers in the state. He is going bring some added depth, and we hope that he will have a smooth transition and be a point scorer for us right off the bat."

Aisha Praught Moline, Ill. | Moline High School | Distance |Cross Country
Placed 16th at the 2007 Illinois State Track and Field Championship meet in the 3,200-meter run, crossing the finish line in 11:24 ... named to the 3A all-state cross country team in 2007 ... finished 22nd with a time of 17:36 at the 2007 IHSA cross country championship, which was held at Detwiler Park in Peoria, Ill. ... was a sprinter until her junior year, then switched to distance events ... ran cross country junior and senior year ... coached by former Illinois State all-conference cross country runner Tauwan Taylor (1993).

Forde on Praught...
"Aisha is a very talented runner. We will count on her tremendously in both cross country and track and field. She has a strong pedigree, being an all-state runner. It is going to be important for her to come in here and establish herself as one of our top female distance runners."

Hanna Query Mahomet, Ill. | Mahomet-Seymour High School | Sprints
Named to the Pantagraph's All-Time Track Honor Roll in the 100- and 200-meter dashes ... placed third at the 2007 IHSA State meet in the 200 with a time of 25.22 sec. ... qualified for the finals at the state meet in the 100-meters with a time of 12.23 and finished in fifth place ... recorded a personal-best time of 12.10 in the 100-meters in 2007 ... her father, Jeff, played in the National Football League (NFL) from 1989-95.

Forde on Query...
"Hanna has a charisma that will fit well in our program. She has a drive to be successful and is excited to run at ISU. She will add to our young sprint squad of Tia (Harvey) and Meaka (Brents), and she may try to expand her events into the 400-meters."

Tori Ziegler Fox Lake, Ill. | Grant High School | Throws
Placed sixth in the shot put with a throw of 42-11.00 feet and 11th in the discus launching a personal-best 122-09.00 at the 2007 Illinois High School Association State meet ... a three sport athlete, competing in volleyball, basketball and track and field.

Forde on Ziegler...
"Tori will bring a lot of strength in an area that we need more depth. Her strongest strength is that she has already thrown over 40 feet. She will be a good addition to the throws area, and will add to the depth and bring more competition to help Sonja (Zoric) and Samantha (Springer)."