Track & Field Wraps Up a Busy Weekend of Competition at Vanderbilt
April 21, 2012
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A weekend that started off on a high note, ends on a high note, as the Illinois State men's and women's track & field teams wrap up a busy weekend of competition at the Vanderbilt Invite at the Vanderbilt Track Complex. Brittany Smith broke her own school record in the hammer throw by four inches (209-08) to finish second, while Mat Smoody shined on the track, running a career-best 1:49.92, taking first place in the process.
Head track & field coach Elvis Forde is pleased with the weekend's results.
"Anytime you travel from one meet to the next, it starts to take a toll on you mentally," said Forde. "It is always difficult, and I think we handled it well. We put forth a lot of consistent efforts over the past three days, and we are right where we want to be. We will start building off these performances heading into the Drake Relays this week."
The full slate of competition began Thursday evening in Walnut, Calif., as five members of the team competed in the Mt. SAC Relays. Aisha Praught once again put her name and Illinois State on the map, running an unprecedented 9:51.30 in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, breaking the Illinois State record by 32 seconds and the Missouri Valley Conference record by 21 seconds, and stands atop the NCAA Division I best-list ranked No. 1 in the same event.
As it stands now, she has the fastest time in the collegiate ranks and the sixth-fastest time in the world, hitting the Olympic trials A standard (9:55.00) which will allow her to compete in the trials at the end of June. She was also just eight seconds off the Olympic A standard which would qualify her to represent the United States at the 2012 London Olympics in July if she finished in the top three at the trials.
Prior to Praught's race, sophomore Kristen Zillmer ran a personal-best 10:30.43 in the Open A section of the 3,000 steeplechase, finishing eighth. Her time ranks her second in the Valley behind Praught, and fourth all-time in Illinois State history. As a result, four Redbirds rank one, two, three, four atop the leaderboard in the Missouri Valley Conference in the event.
The weekend continued with the rest of the Redbirds competing in the Lenny Lyles Invitational at Louisville on Friday. Here it was Curt Jensen and Smith stealing the show for Illinois State. Both Jensen and Smith each racked up two first-place finishes and one third in their respective events. Smith set a new Lenny Lyles Invitational record in the hammer throw, winning the event with a distance of 208-09. She then turned to the discus, finishing third with a mark of ¬¬¬173-05, before taking first in the shot put with a mark of 58-02.50, the second-best of the season for her.
Jensen claimed the third spot in the hammer, posting a mark of 196-04, a personal-best by 11 feet, five inches. He then went on to take first in the discus with a mark of 159-00, before claiming first in his final event, the shot put, with a consistent mark of 59-04.75.
On the track, Fabian Norgrove defended his Lenny Lyles 400-meter dash title from a year ago, running a 48.16 in the process. Smoody finished in the second position, running a 49.04. Freshman Kelly McShea captured first place in her first-ever 3,000 steeplechase, posting a time of 10:59.45.
From Louisville, the team then split off once more, wrapping up the weekend at the Vanderbilt Invite. Besides Smith and Smoody, there were a few other Redbirds that made an impact at the meet. Jake DeJaegher took first in the high jump, leaping to a personal-best 6-08.00. Drake Stuedemann followed in the 400-meter hurdles, running a career-best 53.62 to take third. Tori Ziegler continues her dependability in the throws, taking sixth in the discus (144-06) and fourth in the hammer (170-07). Coty Kramer had the last top performance on the day, running a career-best 48.57 in the 400-meter dash, taking fourth.
Illinois State will take the next few days to regroup and recover from a long weekend, before heading to Des Moines, Iowa, for their annual showing in the Drake Relays. The meet will begin Thursday for the Redbirds and run through Saturday.
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