Following successful seasons leading the Missouri Valley Conference, both Akil Mills and Curt Jensen headed to Albuquerque, to represent the Redbirds at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships over the weekend at the Albuquerque Convention Center.
On Friday, Mills competed in the weight throw, finishing in sixth place with a personal-best throw of 21.66m (71-00.75 ft.) in the fifth round, resulting in his first All-American honors.
Mills was in eighth-place following the preliminary rounds before coming up with his best throw to earn the sixth-place finish.
“I am extremely happy and excited for Akil,” ISU head coach Elvis Forde said. “He was in eighth headed into the final round, and over the first time threw over 70-feet to earn a personal-best mark and finished in sixth. He also earned the first All-American honors of his career, which is something special. Today, he was ready for competition. He worked hard, and it showed. The rest is history, and he will be in the Redbird history books forever. Coach Bennett did a fantastic job, and I am just very happy for the both of them. Today was all about Akil, and I know sometimes he is very quiet, but with a sixth-place finish, he was all smiles.”
Jensen competed in the shot put Saturday and finished eighth to earn All-American honors as well. He finished with a toss of 19.35m (63-06.00 ft.).
His best toss came after the fourth round, and even though he couldn’t best that mark, he found himself in eighth place at the end.
“Curt didn’t have his best stuff today, but nevertheless it was a very tough competition,” Forde said. “It was the very first time he competed at the national meet, and he became an All-American. Hopefully this serves as motivation for outdoors. The level of competition was world-class, and most importantly he got to experience it. What you do over the course of the year matters, but everybody comes with the same expectation to nationals and that is to become an All-American, which he achieved that status. He will be remembered as that at ISU. There is no reason for disappointment. Coach Bennett has done a fantastic job with these two (Mills and Jensen) throwers, and both of them can build on this success heading into outdoors. Again, congrats to Curt and Akil, and there is more in the tank for these two.”
As the indoor season wraps up, the outdoor season begins. The Redbirds’ first meet of the season is March 28-29 when they travel to Carbondale for the Saluki Invitational.