First Place Finishes, Personal-Bests Highlight Redbird Invitational
Jan. 20, 2007
NORMAL, Ill. - The Illinois State track and field team was able to bounce back after a disappointing performance at last weekend's meet by securing 15 first-place and 13 second-place finishes as well as three personal best marks at the Redbird Invitational Saturday afternoon at Horton Field House.
Head coach Elvis Forde was pleased with the effort exhibited by both the men's and women's teams, feeling that the Redbirds were able to show improvements in all of the events.
"The effort I saw from our kids today was what we are trying to instill into our program," said Forde. "Once the effort from the athletes is there, based on the work they have done in practice, the great times, distances and heights will follow. After last week, we were somewhat hard on the kids because the effort that they gave was a little bit disappointing. We hope that we can take the effort we showed today and give that same kind of effort at our upcoming meets."
Junior Devon Williams led the women's squad by winning both the 60-meter (7.62) and 200-meter (25.06) dashes for the third consecutive meet to open up the indoor season. Senior Betsy McDonald also placed first in the mile, clocking in at 5:10.81. Junior Frannie Epps finished in first in the 60-meter hurdles (9.13), while sophomore Kim Smudde was first in the 800-meter (2:20.53). Other first place finishers for the Redbirds included sophomore Kathleen Thompson in the 3,000-meter run (10:34.06) and the 4x400-meter relay team of junior Anna Lovell, sophomore Brianna Officer, Smudde and Williams (4:05.35).
"Devon (Williams) is a special athlete," said Forde. "She had two great times in the 60 and 200 meters, especially for it being so early in the season. She is consistent, and the funny thing is that we haven't done anything special to make Devon perform at this level at this time. Kim Smudde also had a great run in the 800-meter as well as Betsy McDonald in the mile and Kathleen Thompson in the 3000-meters."
In the throws, sophomore Samantha Springer threw two personal-best marks in the weight throw and shot put. Springer finished in first in the shot put with a throw of 43-08.75 feet, while placing second in the weight throw with a toss of 52-01.25 feet.
On the men's side, junior Kelley Anderson led the Redbirds with wins in both the 60-meter (7.03) and 200-meter dashes (22.88). Junior DeAndre Tillman placed first in the 400-meter dash (51.22), while sophomore Mike Richardson finished in first in the mile run (4:23.18). Junior Alex Straughn won the high jump with a score of 6-09.50 as well as placing first in the long jump (22-03.00).
The men's 4x400-meter relay team of sophomore Carl Azab, freshman Justin Caldwell, sophomore Randall Robbins and freshman Anthony Jacks finished in first place, clocking in at 3:24.00. Throwers Joe Painter and Anton Walczak also had strong performances for the Redbirds. Painter established a new personal record in the shot put, finishing in second place with a throw of 49-05.00 feet, while Walczak's throw of 53-05.00 feet in the weight throw was a season-high.
"Alex Straughn had a great day in the jumps," Forde said. "Kelley Anderson also ran some good races today. He did a great job in the 60-meter dash and ran the best I've seen him in the 200-meter dash, so that is exciting. It's early in the year, but we want those guys to understand how to win and to keep moving on from here."
The Redbirds will travel to participate in the Edmonds Cup on January 27, in Lafayette, Ind. The meet is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. (11 a.m. EST).