Women Finish 3rd, Men 6th at Valley Championships
Follow @ISURedbirds Tweet #ISUATH
Feb. 24, 2013
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa - The Illinois State women's track & field team finished third and the men's team finished sixth, as the 2013 Missouri Valley Conference Indoor Track & Field Championships came to a close at the UNI Dome in Cedar Falls, Iowa. The Redbirds saw a combined 21 All-Valley performances and four individual event titles throughout the course of the championships.
Head track & field coach Elvis Forde was pleased with the way both teams competed.
"Everyone that came to the championships this weekend competed hard," Forde said. "We had some outstanding performances across all events, and I couldn't be more pleased with the way the kids competed."
Brittany Smith got the ball rolling for the Redbirds on the final day, winning the first-ever Valley title of her career. Down to her last throw, knowing she had already won the event, Smith mustered a personal-best and school-record throw of 56-09.25 (17.30m), sealing her fate on the day. That throw moved her into the No. 7 spot in the nation, as she has already booked her ticket to the NCAA Indoor Championships in the event.
"For all the successes and All-American honors Brittany has earned over the years, this was one of the best moments for her," Forde said. "The conference is one of the best throwing conferences in the nation on the women's side, and Brittany has been a big part of that over the years. It was nice to finally see her win a conference title that she deserved."
Another bright spot on the day was Sade Sealy winning her fourth-straight Valley title in the 400-meter dash. The senior took the lead off the first turn and never looked back, running a season-best time of 54.14, which ranks her No. 16 in the nation. She is one of only three people to win four titles in the event indoors, and the second to win four-straight. She is now seven-for-seven in the event combined indoors and outdoors.
Sealy also found herself on the podium for the 200-meter dash, where she ran a second-place time of 24.61, a personal-best. She then ran the anchor leg of the women's 4X400-meter dash, sealing the victory for the Redbirds. Printassia Johnson led off the relay with a solid split, handing the stick off to Shandel Ellis in first place. Ellis continued to pull away until being caught on the last stretch before passing the baton off to Kristen Zillmer, who ran a split of 57 seconds to give Sealy the lead for the anchor leg, which was all she needed. The squad posted a time of 3:45.09 in the win.
As a result of her performances and ranking on the national lists, Sealy earned the Most Outstanding Track Athlete Award on the women's side.
"Anytime you can win four conference titles in one event, that is truly something special," Forde said. "This is the fittest I have ever seen her and the most determined she has been to make it to nationals. The way she ran today, it will be tough for her not to run faster next weekend to give herself a shot to run at the indoor championships."
The action on the track continued to be exciting, as the women's distance crew made yet another statement for why they are the best in the Valley. In the mile, Rachael Brewer ran side-by-side eight-time All-American and conference leader in the event, Aliphine Tuliamuk-Bolton, kicking her down the last straight away to claim the title with a personal-best time of 4:49.315, edging Tuliamuk-Bolton by four one-thousandths of a second (4:49.319). Kelly McShea held her own with those two, running a career-time of 4:49.68, finishing third, while Zillmer took fourth with a time of 4:55.05. Zillmer then showed off her wheels in the 800-meter run, finishing with a time of 2:13.04 for second place.
The crew wasn't done, as the 5,000-meter run was to follow later in the day. After Tuliamuk-Bolton took off after the first mile, Brewer continued to push the pace of the chase pack, running to a second-place finish in 16:50.79. Elise Sigg finished fourth with a time of 17:24.49, while Kim Christensen took eighth with a time of 17:34.24. McShea just missed scoring, as she finished ninth with a time of 17:45.78.
"The women's distance runners had a great weekend," Forde said. "Kristen ran a lot of races this weekend and did very well in each of them. She is tough competitor and did exactly what she needed to do to perform well this weekend. Rachael also showed her toughness in all three of her races. In my time, I have never seen a more exciting race than the women's mile, and I am so proud of how she (Rachael) performed. Let's not forget about Kelly or Elise, they had some of the top performances on the day and helped put the team in contention to win."
On the guy's side, Tyler Rippel strung together a tough race in the 800-meter run, finishing with a third-place time of 1:53.45, a personal-best. He joined Thomas Jean as one of only two Redbirds to earn All-Valley honors on the guy's side for their top-three performances at the championships.
This concludes the indoor season for the majority of the men's and women's track & field teams. A select few will compete next weekend at last chance meets in hopes of qualifying for the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships hosted by Arkansas. As of right now, Smith is the only Redbird who punched a ticket to the championships, as she ranks among the top-16 nationally in both the shot put and weight throw.
GoRedbirds.com: Your online source for Illinois State Athletics, tickets, TRC gifts, multimedia, Redbird merchandise, photos and more.