Redbirds Earn Eight Valley Honors; One Valley Title
Sade Sealy

Sade Sealy

Feb. 25, 2012

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CEDAR FALLS, Iowa - The Illinois State men's and women's track & field team finished day one of competition at the 2012 State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Indoor Track & Field Championships at the UNI-Dome with eight All-Valley performances and one MVC title. The women's team holds the number-one spot heading into the final day of competition.

Brittany Smith, Akil Mills, Aisha Praught, Elise Sigg, Ashley Kamin, Jil Kerkman, Jordan Frey and Kristen Zillmer tabbed All-Valley honors with top-three performances in their respective events. Kamin, Kerkman, Frey and Zillmer were also crowned conference champs, as they won the distance medley relay with a time of 11:49.45, closing out day one of competition. This was the third-straight conference title in the distance medley relay for the the lady Redbirds.

Head track & field coach Elvis Forde is pleased with the performances on the day.

"In all, it was a good day," said Forde. "We had a couple shortcomings in the 200- and 400-meter dashes, but made up for it with outstanding performances by the women's distance runners and throwers. Finishing two, three and four in the 3,000-meter run and following that up with a first in the distance medley relay speaks volumes to the competitiveness in the women's team. We need to raise our level one more notch tomorrow to keep pace with our goals."

Smith scored the first points for the Redbirds, finishing second in the weight throw competition with a career-best, ISU-best and NCAA automatic qualifying mark of 69-04.00. Jianna Williams finished eighth with a career-best mark of 60-06.00, while Tori Ziegler took seventh, with a career-best throw of 61-11.75.

The women's 800-meter run prelims followed, with Kerkman running 2:15.76, taking the last qualifying spot for the finals tomorrow. On the men's side, Mat Smoody (1:55.44) won his heat, advancing to the finals as the two seed, while Christopher Hamilton (1:53.47) took the fifth seed heading into Sunday. Sade Sealy was the lone Redbird to advance in the women's 400-meter dash, winning her heat with a time of 55.01. Fabian Norgrove tabbed the top seed heading into the men's 400-meter dash finals on Sunday, winning his heat with a time of 49.41. In the 60-meter dash, Ben Sparkman claimed the last qualifying spot for the finals, running a career-best time of 6.97.

The men's weight produced another All-Valley performer for the Redbirds, this time it was Mills finishing in the top three. His career-best toss of 67-04.75 earned him the third spot on the podium and the second spot in the Illinois State record books. He now ranks 20th in the nation. Curt Jensen (6th - 60-05.75) and Luke Wielgopolan (8th - 58-06.75) also scored for the Redbirds in the men's weight competition. Kendric Smith followed in the 60-meter hurdles, claiming the fourth seed, heading into the finals with a time of 8.05.

The women's 3,000-meter run proved to be exciting as the Redbirds finished 2-3-4, scoring 19 points for the team. Praught continued her successful senior season, claiming the second spot on the podium with a 9:46.05 finish. Sigg took third with a 9:56.15 finish and Rachael Brewer finished fourth with a career-best time of 9:56.35.
 In the 200-meter dashes, Shandel Ellis was the lone sole to qualify for the finals, running the top time on the day and a personal-best time of 24.55.

The Redbirds return to action Sunday, Feb. 26, as day two of the championships commences at 9:30 a.m. For up-to-date results follow @ISU_Track_XC or @ISURedbirds on Twitter.

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