Hourd MVC Track Athlete of the Week, `Birds Set Sites on MVC Indoor Title
Megan Reese currently holds the best jump in the Valley in the high jump heading into the championships.
Megan Reese currently holds the best jump in the Valley in the high jump heading into the championships.

Feb. 22, 2006

NORMAL, Ill. - Not only was Brittney Hourd honored as the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference track athlete of the week, but the league also announced that both the men's and women's Illinois State track and field teams were picked to finish third in the Missouri Valley Conference Pre-Championship Polls this week.

As the indoor season comes to a close, the squad will compete in the much anticipated State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Indoor Championships in Cedar Falls, Iowa on February 24-25. It's the meet the team has been training for all season and shows what progress they have made since the first meet in December.

Northern Iowa's men's squad, the defending champions, are favored to win again this season according to the poll, while Wichita State is favored to win the women's team championship. Southern Illinois' women's team took the title last season and was picked second this season, followed by Illinois State and Missouri State in a tie for third. Indiana State's men's squad was picked second, while the Redbirds were third.

"I like the level that we've been performing at this season," said head track and field coach Elvis Forde, "But I'm going to expect more this weekend. In reality it speaks for the things that our athletes have done so far this season, but I want to be a champion and I hope this is motivation for the athletes. For the men it's going to be a little tougher because we aren't as deep, but I think that the women really have a chance to move themselves up based on where they were picked to finish."

Competing in the final meet before conference, Hourd was able to get two more races under her belt and competed in the shot put to prepare for this weekend. Forde was glad she broke the nine-second barrier at the Friday Night Special and turned in a season-best before the championships.

"It's good to see her doing well," said Forde. "She's been working really hard and broke nine seconds at Eastern, so that should build some confidence for her. I hope it stays with her because we're going to need her to run very well in that event. I think being this week's MVC track athlete was an honor well-deserved on her part."

On the women's side, Forde feels his team is evenly balanced across the board. Devon Williams is favored to win the 60-meter dash, while Lian Lucas is the favorite in the 200-meters. Anna Lovell should also pick up valuable points in the sprints. Andrea Mosher will battle for the gold in the 400-meters and the 800-meter run will feature top freshman Kimberli Smudde. Megan Reese has recorded the best jump in the Valley this season and will contend for a conference championship in the high jump.

For the men's squad, Jeremy Johnson has turned in the third fastest time in the 60 and 200-meter dashes. Bronco Meeks, in the 800-meters and Jeremy Doherty, in the mile, are both favored to win their respective events. Mark Jackson will also contend for top spots in the shot put and weight throw.

"From this point there is nothing else we can to do train," said Forde. "Either we have it now or we don't. From here it's all mental. I've looked at their faces the last couple of days and I see game faces so I know we're ready to perform this weekend. As I look back at the whole conference it's going to be a fight for every point. We are going to have to get every point we are capable of to keep us in that top three."

The championships are scheduled to begin Friday morning at 10:45 a.m. with competition continuing through Saturday starting at 10:00 a.m.