Akil Mills highlighted the Redbirds’ performance at the MVC championship, taking first place in the weight throw competition on Saturday with a throw of 21.19m. He was then named Missouri Valley Conference Most Outstanding Male Field Athlete of the Year. The senior thrower currently ranks No. 15 on the NCAA leaderboard with a personal-best heave of 21.23m (69-08.00) set at the Don Kirby Elite, heading into the NCAA Championships.
Curt Jensen also took home a gold medal, earning first place in the shot put with a toss of 18.81m. He nearly missed the cut for the final round after fouling on his first two throws, but was able to land an 18.62m on his final throw, good enough to get himself to the finals. Jensen will also advance to the NCAA Championships.
Other first-place finishes include the ISU women’s distance medley relay team of Haley Goers, Ally Christiani, Kaley Ummel and Kelly McShea, who placed first with a time of 11:50.80, and Kristen Zillmer, who took first place in the women’s mile with a time of 4:57.97.
Julia Ott claimed a second-place finish with a school record mark in the women’s pole vault.
Distance runner Ryan Rutherford ran to a second-place finish in the 5,000-meter with a time of 14:14:24, finishing just one second after the first-place runner, to earn All-Valley honors. Rutherford also finished third in the 3,000-meter with a time of 8:19.31.
Chase Pavelonis finished third in the men’s pole vault with a personal-best of 5.00m.
Jianna Williams finished third in the women’s weight throw, earning all-conference honors with a throw of 19.44m.
Shandel Ellis also finished third in the women’s 200-meter with a time of 24.30 and second in the 400-meter with a time of 55.55 to earn two all-conference honors, while Zillmer captured a third-place finish in the women’s mile on Sunday.
“We can be excited or disappointed, and today I am a little more disappointed because when we look at the scores we are separated by three of four points,” head coach Elvis Forde said.
“It goes to show that everything has to go perfectly in order. I know that we have to just start getting ready for the outdoor season, and we need to get Curt and Akil to the national meet and have them excel there … All in all, we competed hard, but it is just so crushing when you look at the point that separated four teams.”
Next up is the NCAA Championships from March 14-15 in Albuquerque, N.M., where Mills and Jensen will compete in the weight throw and shot put, respectively.