A Trio of Redbirds Represent ISU at NCAA Indoor Championships
March 8, 2012
NAMPA, Idaho - Three members of the Illinois State men's and women's track & field teams head to Nampa, Idaho, to compete in the 2012 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships, Friday, March 9 through Saturday, March 10, at Jacksons Track at the Idaho Center. Akil Mills and Brittany Smith will tackle the throws for the Redbirds, while Aisha Praught will partake in the women's mile.
Head track & field coach Elvis Forde is looking forward to seeing what these three individuals can do on the national stage.
"These three student-athletes have worked hard to get where they are at," said Forde. "They have proved week-in and week-out that they deserve to compete on the national stage. I am eager to see how well they perform this weekend, as I have seen first-hand how hard they have worked and how bad they want to be here."
Illinois State Redbirds at 2012 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships
Akil Mills | 35-lb Weight Throw
Mills will compete in the men's 35-lb weight throw, where he enters the meet ranked 16th. Down to his last meet of this season, Mills threw an unprecedented 69-04.00 at the NCAA Qualifier at Wisconsin, a full two feet further than his previous personal best. The week before that, he earned All-Valley honors throwing 67-04.75 in the weight at the 2012 State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Indoor Track & Field Championships, finishing third. Throughout the course of the indoor season, Mills has been a consistent performer in the weight throw, racking up four first-place finishes. He holds the second and third top-marks in the Illinois State record books. The Loganville, Ga., native takes his step into the circle for the weight throw competition, Saturday, March 10 at 5 p.m. CST.
Aisha Praught | Mile Run
Praught enters the weekend as the lone runner competing for the Redbirds in the NCAA championships. Two weeks ago, Praught ran to a MVC title with a 4:48.69 time in the mile. Last week, she earned her right to be at the indoor championships, running a personal-best and ISU record of 4:37.77 in the event. She initially broke the 28-year old Illinois State record in the mile on Jan. 27 at the Indiana Relays, where she ran a 4:44.40, finishing third. A week later at the Meyo Invitational, she finished third in the Meyo Mile, breaking the record she set by four seconds (4:41.49). As it stands, she holds all three of the top marks in the Redbird record books in the mile, while racking up three All-Valley performances and a MVC title. In the fall, she helped the women's cross country team to a MVC title, finishing third in the 5K championships, earning All-Valley and All-Region honors, respectively. A product of Moline, Ill., Praught will take the start line for the mile prelims on Friday, March 9, at 6:15 p.m. CST.
Brittany Smith | 20-lb Weight Throw | Shot Put
Smith continues her stellar Redbird career, competing in her second NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships. Last year, Smith finished third in the shot put with a personal-best and school-record mark of 56-04.75, earning All-America honors. This year, she will compete in both the shot put and 20-lb weight throw. Smith qualified for both events two weeks ago at the 2012 State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Indoor Track & Field Championships, where she finished second in both events, racking up two All-Valley performances. During the season, Smith has set and reset the ISU record for the women's weight five times. Currently, that mark, as well as her personal best, stands at 69-04.75. Not only was her weight throwing skills off the charts this season, but she continued her success in the shot put from a year ago, reaching a season-best mark of 56-03.75. In all, the Oak Park, Ill., native racked-up nine first-place finishes, while claiming every Illinois State throwing record in the process. She will try to make her mark at the NCAA championships Friday, March 9 at 3:00 p.m. CST in the weight throw, and Saturday, March 10, at 8:00 p.m. CST in the shot put.
ESPN3 will stream the meet live on March 9 from 7:30-11:45 p.m. EST and March 10 from 8-11:15 p.m. EST. A tape delay of the 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 Friday (Noon-7:30 p.m. EST) and 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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