Strong Showing for the Redbirds at Day One of NCAA Championships
March 9, 2012
NAMPA, Idaho - Illinois State track & field student-athletes Brittany Smith and Aisha Praught represented the Redbirds at day one of the 2012 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships Friday, March 9 at the Idaho Center. Smith took third in the 20-lb weight throw, earning All-American honors, while Praught qualified for the mile finals set for Saturday.
Head track & field coach Elvis Forde is excited about the day's performances.
"It was a fantastic day for Brittany and Aisha," said Forde. "Brittany had a good start to the championships finishing third in the weight and it's a tremendous accomplishment for her to place that high and earn her third All-American honors. Aisha looked confident and stayed in control making it look easy. It is a testament to her hard work for her to be successful. I am excited by both performances and looking forward to seeing what they can do tomorrow with Brittany in the shot and Aisha in the mile finals."
Smith started the day off for the Redbirds in the women's 20-lb weight throw. After, fouling her first attempt, she came back to take the lead of flight one with a mark of 67-01.25. She extended her lead over everyone in the first flight on her last attempt of the preliminary round, launching a mark of 68-06.50, which would hold to be her best on the day. Smith entered the finals in second place behind Southern Illinois' Jeneva McCall, who set a mark of 75-01.75 in flight two of the prelims. UCLA's Ida Storm edged Smith out for second place on her fifth attempt, throwing 70-05.75. With her third place finish, Smith earned her third All-American honors and first of this season. As for the Missouri Valley Conference, the strengths of the throws held true as the conference participants finished first (McCalll -Southern Illinois), third (Smith - Illinois State) and fourth (Felisha Johnson - Indiana State). Smith will be back in action tomorrow, March 10, as she will compete in the shot put competition at 8 p.m. CST.
Praught made her debut on the national stage in the mile, where she ran to a second-place finish in her heat, qualifying for the finals tomorrow with a time of 4:41.50. She ran side-by-side with All-American Jordan Hasay of Oregon the majority of the race, claiming the number two spot on the final kick. She enters tomorrow's race with the sixth-fastest qualifying time on the day and will be running against some of the nation's best, including Lucy Van Dalen of Stony Brook, who entered the championships with the fastest seed-time of 4:31.92. She will compete for a podium spot and All-American honors tomorrow at 7:25 p.m. CST.
Akil Mills will make his debut at the national championships tomorrow in the men's 35-lb weight throw at 5 p.m. CST.
ESPN3 will stream the meet live tomorrow from 8-11:15 p.m. EST. A tape delay of the entire championship will air Sunday, March 18, at 7:30 p.m. EST on ESPNU. NCAA.com and broncosports.com will stream what ESPN3 is not covering on Saturday (12:30-8 pm EST).
In addition, those wanting to follow Mills, Smith and Praught can get up-to-date information on Twitter by following @ISURedbirds and @ISU_Track_XC. Live results will also be available through Record Timing at RecordTiming.com.
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