Two Current, Two Former Redbirds Begin U.S. Olympic Quest at Trials
June 20, 2012
NORMAL, Ill. - Two current members of the Illinois State men's and women's track & field teams will join two recent graduates of the program in Eugene, Ore., for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials at Hayward Field, June 21-July1, as each will try to earn a right to represent the United States at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
Brittany Smith will be the first Redbird to compete and the only two-eventer as she will compete in both the hammer throw and shot put. The six-time All-American earned her right to compete in the trials by throwing season- and career-best marks of 224-06 and 58-09.50 in the hammer and shot put, respectively. Most recently, Smith combined for 16 points at the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships with a runner-up finish in both events, giving the Illinois State women's team their highest finish at the championships at No. 14.
The accolades for Smith started in April when she was named the recipient of the Tony Wilson Award at the Sea Ray Relays for the Most Outstanding Female Field Athlete of the meet. In conjunction, she was also named the Missouri Valley Field Athlete of the Week. At the conference meet, she scored 24 points, aiding the women's team to their highest finish since 2000 at No. 2, claiming three more All-Valley performances in the process. Her performances, along with her success in the classroom, also earned her Capital One COSIDA Academic All-District V honors.
Following Smith at the trials is the two-time defending national champion in the javelin, Tim Glover. Glover won his second-consecutive title earlier this month, throwing an unprecedented 268-00 (81.69m). That fourth-round throw he launched set a new Illinois State and MVC record, and keeps him the No. 9 performer of all-time in the NCAA history books. His mark was also the third-best in meet history and the best since 2009.
His six-throw series at the championships consisted of every throw measuring over 235 feet, with two throws over 250 feet. He was just the second Redbird in school history to win back-to-back NCAA titles and first since Tom Smith (high jump) in 1987 and 1988. Prior to the championships, Glover was the top-ranked thrower of the year in the college ranks (266-09/81.31m), which he achieved at the Sea Ray Relays in April. As a result, he was named the recipient of the Tony Wilson Award for the Most Outstanding Male Field Athlete of the meet.
The honors for Glover kept coming, as he was promoted to the Bowerman watch List in early May, only to be recently named a semifinalist for the award, which is bestowed to the track & field Athlete of the Year. En route to this honor, Glover won his third-straight MVC title and second-consecutive Most Outstanding Field Athlete honors at the conference championships. His performances also dubbed him as the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Midwest Region and National Field Athlete of the Year.
Along with Smith and Glover, Aisha Praught and Leigh Petranoff, two recent Illinois State graduates, will also join in the Olympic quest. Praught will compete in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, which she earned by running a 9:51.30 at the prestigious Mt. SAC Relays in April this year, finishing first in her heat and third overall to a field of top collegiate and professionals. Her time shattered the Illinois State Record by 32 seconds (10:23.15) and the Valley record by 21 seconds (10:12.28), and was the sixth-fastest time in the world at that time, which stood for three consecutive weeks.
Praught also played an intricate role in the Drake Relays Champion women's distance medley relay team, chasing down Nebraska's Ashley Miller on the final lap of the mile leg, running a 4:39.00 split in a spring finish, helping the team to a time of 11:19.14, breaking the school record and earning its first Drake Relays title in the event.
Prior to the outdoor season, Praught was the NCAA Division I Runner-up in the indoor mile, running a 4:39.85, being edged out by just nine-hundredths of a second. The All-American was a two-time national qualifier her senior year, and posted the best finish on the track by a distance runner since Christian Goy won the NCAA title in the indoor mile in 2002. Her post-collegiate career begins at the trials, but she will still be sporting the red and white of Illinois State.
Petranoff will light the javelin runway up on Friday, June 29, as the last competitor on the Redbird docket. The All-American and four-time Valley champion will compete for the last time in an ISU uniform, as she will be representing Turbojav Club in her post-collegiate endeavors. This season, Petranoff compiled four first-place finishes, with her best coming at Illinois State's lone home meet of the season, where she threw a personal-, ISU- and MVC-best of 173-03. Her only blemish during the regular season was a second-place finish (165-10) at the Drake Relays to eventual national champion Brittany Borman of Oklahoma.
Those wishing to follow Glover, Smith, Praught and Petranoff can do so on GoRedbirds.com or on Twitter via @ISURedbirds or @ISU_Track_XC. NBC and NBC Sports Netwrok (NBCSN) will air part of the trials on television as follows:
The schedule of events that the four above will be competing in is as follows:
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