Praught and Smith Named Academic All-District
May 31, 2012
NORMAL, Ill. - Illinois State track & field senior Aisha Praught and junior Brittany Smith were named to the Capital One Academic All-District V women's track & field/cross country team, as voted on by College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Thursday. Both were first-team selections.
Head track & field coach Elvis Forde feels both are well deserving of the award for their successes, both academically and athletically.
"In our sport, a lot of kids that are successful on the track are also successful in the classroom," said Forde. "These two are a true testament to that. With Brittany in mathematics and Aisha in geology, they both have been able to maintain high academic standards while exceling in competition, and that shows how committed both of them are to what they do."
Praught's year started during last fall's the cross country season where she helped the women's team to its first-ever Missouri Valley Conference title since the Gateway Conference was absorbed by the MVC in 1992. During the cross country season, Praught earned All-Valley honors, crossing the finish line at the MVC Championships in third place with a 5K-time of 17:46.6. She followed that up with a 13th-place finish at the NCAA Midwest Regional, running a 21:30.89 6K, missing out on nationals by one place.
On the indoor track, Praught excelled, breaking the Illinois State record in the mile en route to her first appearance on the national stage. She first broke the school record in the mile at Indiana, running a 4:44.40. She followed that with a 4:41.49 performance in the prestigious Meyo Mile race at Notre Dame. Her next mile came at the MVC indoor championships, where she won the crown with a time of 4:48.69, the first of three races for her. She would finish second in both the 3,000-meter and 5,000-meter runs, respectively, earning All-Valley honors. She then went on to break her mile record once more, running a 4:37.77 to qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championships, where she finished second in the mile, earning All-American honors.
Outdoors, Praught set the school record in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, running an unprecedented 9:51.30 at the Mt. SAC Relays, qualifying her for the NCAA West Region Prelims and the U.S. Olympic Trials at the end of June. At the region prelims, she ran a 10:26.17 in the same event, marking her second-consecutive appearance at the NCAA Championships.
Smith's season started indoors, where she broke every ISU throwing record for a female athlete. A consistent performer in the throws, Smith managed to claim nine first-place finishes between the shot put and weight throw, setting season-bests of 56-03.75 and 69-04.00, respectively. A two-eventer at the NCAA Indoor Championships, Smith claimed third in the weight throw with a mark of 68-06.50, followed by a 15th-place finish in the shot with a mark of 51-11.00.
The four-time All-American took the outdoor season head on, reaching new marks in all three of her events. The Oak Park, Ill., native climbed the national charts in the shot put at the Sea Ray Relays, throwing 58-09.50 for first place, and followed with a 180-11 performance in the discus. At the Valley Championships, she took three second-place finishes, setting a school record in the hammer with a throw of 222-10. All of her marks qualified her for three events at the NCAA West Region Prelims, where she managed to qualify for the NCAA Championships in the shot put and hammer throw.
Praught and Smith, along with Tim Glover and Akil Mills continue their outdoor season at the 2012 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships next week, June 6-9 in Des Moines, Iowa. Praught will run the 3,000-meter steeplechase, Glover will attempt to defend his national title in the javelin, Mills will throw the hammer, and Smith will compete in both the shot put and hammer.
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