The start of a new season in any sport brings hope and, following an impressive showing at the Eastern Illinois Early Bird Invite in December, the Redbirds are looking forward to getting the 2014 indoor track and field season started.
Most of the attention will be placed on senior Curt Jensen, who shattered the Missouri Valley Conference record for shot put by almost four feet with his 66 foot, seven-inch throw at the Early Bird Invite.
Illinois State head track and field coach Elvis Forde is excited about what the season holds for Jensen.
“Curt is one of those guys who is very self-motivated and is working very hard to get even stronger than he is now. We are hoping he can keep up his current pace and eventually compete at Nationals this season,” Forde said.
Forde is also excited about many others such as the ISU cross country team’s junior Ryan Rutherford, and sophomores Tyler Morse and Dave Eckhart in distance running.
“Ryan, Tyler and Dave are coming off of fantastic cross country seasons, and they will look to continue to develop as runners,” Forde said.
Another Redbird to be on the lookout for is junior Chase Pavelonis, who vaulted to a personal-best 16-00.75 in the EIU Invite.
On the women’s side, Jianna Williams came in first-place in two different events at the EIU Invite, winning both the weight throw and the shot put. Forde is adamant about how well she would contribute to the team this season.
“Jianna has been working hard after missing last season, and has come back better than ever and will expect to compete for the conference championship,” Forde said.
Many women from the cross country team are also on the track team, such as seniors Rachael Brewer, Kim Christensen and Kristen Zillmer, who are all expected to make big impacts in the team’s distance running.
Julia Ott will lead the Redbirds in women’s pole vaulting and is expected to build on her second-place finish at the EIU invite.
“Julia is learning things that are going to help her soar as we go through the season. The other pole vaulters are working on getting some things together, but we are excited to see where they go,” Forde said.
When asked about how he expects this season to go, he emphasized that health will play a huge factor.
“The biggest thing is staying healthy throughout the season. We can only get better if we are healthy enough to practice and compete,” he said.
ISU will compete Friday when it will travel to Terre Haute, Ind., to take on Indiana State.