Redbirds Have Big Day at the Big Meet
Feb. 11, 2012
ALLENDALE, Mich. - The Illinois State men's and women's track & field teams saw many top performances as the Redbirds finished up competition at the Big Meet at Grand Valley State. Shandel Ellis highlighted the top performances, taking first in the open 400-meter dash with a time of 56.44, two seconds faster than her previous best.
Head track & field coach Elvis Forde was enthused about the team's performance this weekend.
"We had two solid days in a row," said Forde. "We are starting to string performances together while ticking time of the clock. Shandel keeps building on her previous meets, only to get better week in and week out. We were definitely more focused overall this weekend and we need to carry that over into the conference meet in two weeks."
The track seemed to produce fast times for the Redbirds all day as many of them turned in career bests. Freshman Tyler Rippel was the top Illinois State runner to finish in the open 800-meter run, committing himself just 350-meters into the race to turn in a time of 1:56.32, three seconds faster than his personal best. Printassia Johnson ran career marks in both the 60-meter (7.93) and 200-meter (25.54) dashes.
The women's open mile also faired well, as all three finished ahead of their personal-bests. Kristen Zillmer finally broke the five-minute barrier, running a 4:59.13 for first place. Rachael Brewer took second with a time of 5:03.59, 10 seconds better than her top time, and Ashley Kamin took seventh with a time of 5:07.00, six seconds faster than her career time.
"The women's distance runners continue to amaze me," said Forde. "For as young and as new to the sport as Rachael and Ashley are, they continue to grow and impress me each week. Those two come into each meet looking to have fun and when they do that, they continue to produce."
The women's open 800-meter run was the last event that sparked some renewed spirit in the Redbirds. Jil Kerkman and Geena Loesch ran career times on the day to finish first and fourth, respectively. Kerkman's 2:12.69 was a full second faster than her previous best, while Loesch's 2:15.35 was a full four seconds faster than her previous best.
As for the field events, freshman Thomas Jean hit a new personal-best height in the pole vault with a mark of 14-11.00, finishing third in the open event. Jen Jenkins leaped 18-04.25, an inch further than her career mark, finishing second in the long jump competition. Kendall Rush (17-07.25) followed up with a personal-best mark of her own in the long jump, finishing sixth. She then followed up with a first-place finish in the triple jump, leaping a personal-best 38-07.50.
The Illinois State track & field teams return to action Saturday, Feb. 18, at the Purdue Boilermaker in West Lafayette, Ind. This will be the last meet to allow the Redbirds to sure things up before the Missouri Valley Conference Indoor Championships the following weekend.
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