ISU Claims Two More Titles to Close Out the Drake Relays
Drake Relays hammer champion Brittany Smith
Drake Relays hammer champion Brittany Smith

April 27, 2013

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DES MOINES, Iowa - Brittany Smith and Elise Sigg each take a Drake Relays title and the women's 4X400-meter relay breaks the school record for the second-consecutive time, as the Illinois State men's and women's track & field teams end the 104th Drake Relays with three champions and two school records at Drake Stadium Saturday evening.

Assistant track & field coach Jeff Bovee couldn't have been more excited about the weekend.

"What a great weekend for the Redbirds," Bovee said. "Three champions and two school records is something to be proud of. All the relays were competitive throughout the meet and the good showing at the distance carnival Thursday night really got the ball rolling for the weekend. We had great weather and it was awesome to see how hard all the athletes competed, and I am excited to see how they progress as we move toward the conference championships in two weeks."

Smith picked up where Tim Glover left off yesterday, claiming yet another Drake Relays title for the Redbirds. She opened the hammer competition with a throw of 199-05 (60.80m). She fouled her second attempt, before launching the implement 205-05 (62.61m), making it into the finals. On her fourth throw, the senior let loose a toss of 208-10 (63.66m), taking the lead with two throws remaining. She failed to better that mark on her last two attempts, however, her fourth mark was far enough to hold on for the title by two feet.

"Here is a senior [Smith] who took advantage of an opportunity," Bovee said. "She competed in two other events yesterday and was disappointed, but she had a third opportunity today and she took advantage of it. She is one of the best combination throwers in the country and competed well today toward her first Drake Relays title and she should be going home feeling a little better about herself."

Next, it was Sigg's turn to make something happen on the track in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. The senior found herself among a field of some of the top distance runners from Minnesota, Illinois and Ohio State. She tucked right in behind the lead pack for the majority of the race, before making a move on the front stretch with just over a lap remaining. That surge put her ahead of Minnesota's Katie Moraczewski, and it was no looking back from there, as she ran herself to her first Drake Relays title with a personal-best time of 10:12.64, three seconds faster than Moraczewski. That time ranks her 13th in the nation, just ahead of teammate Kristen Zillmer, who previously had the top-time on the season for the Redbirds.

"Elise looked phenomenal out there today," Bovee said. "She is really excited about the sport right now. Someone who has a positive attitude and believes in oneself can accomplish big things, and Elise is a poster child for that right now. I feel like she and the rest of the steeplers have a lot left in the tank and I am excited to see how the remainder of the season plays out."

Also on the track, the women's squad took on three relays on the day, including the sprint and distance medleys, and the 4X400-meter relay. The sprint medley was the first to go with Printassia Johnson and Shandel Ellis running both of the 200-meter legs, Sade Sealy running the 400-meter leg and Kaley Ummel anchoring the 800-meter leg. That squad ran themselves to a 10th-place finish with a time of 3:54.79.

With about a three-hour break, Ellis and Sealy bounced back to run two legs of the distance medley relay. Kelly McShea led off the squad with a 3:31 split on the 1,200-meter leg, before Ellis split a 54.7 for the 400-meter portion. Sealy found herself running the 800-meter leg, something she doesn't usually do, splitting a 2:09 before handing the baton off to Zillmer for the anchor mile leg. Zillmer managed to split a 4:55. The crew's time of 11:30.77 wasn't quite fast enough to defend their title from a year ago, as the squad took sixth on the day.

Perhaps the most exciting of the three for the Redbirds was the women's 4X400-meter relay. After running a school-record time of 3:39.96 to qualify for the finals, the team found themselves needing a fast time to compete against tough Illinois, Notre Dame and Nebraska squads.

Johnson ran the opening leg in 56 seconds, giving the Redbirds good position, however, a shaky handoff cost ISU a couple of steps, as Ellis found herself in seventh place starting the second leg of the race. She was able to pick off a runner or two with her 54.7 split, before handing the stick off to Zillmer for the third leg. Zillmer split a 55.7, passing a couple runners on the home stretch. Sealy ran the anchor leg in 52.1, running Illinois State to a new school-record time of 3:38.64 and a fourth-place finish at the Drake Relays.

"Those women competed hard all weekend," Bovee said. "They each did a lot of racing, and to run that fast on not so fresh legs, I can't wait to see what they can do with fresh ones. With better hand offs, that team can run faster. It will be interesting to see how they do the next couple of weeks."

Akil Mills was the only other ISU athlete to compete on the day, as he gave the Redbirds another top-five performance, this time in the hammer throw. Mills opened with an easy throw of 196-02 (59.80m). He bettered that mark on his second throw, reaching a distance of 200-08 (61.16m). He broke 200-00 just one more time, as his second toss would stand as his best, finishing the competition in fourth place.

The Redbirds return to the track for one final tune-up before the 2013 Missouri Valley Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships (May 10-12), Saturday, May 5 at Wisconsin. Your online source for Illinois State Athletics, tickets, TRC gifts, multimedia, Redbird merchandise, photos and more.