Illinois State University’s track and field outdoor season came to a close this past week in Eugene, Ore. Three Redbirds represented ISU at the NCAA nationals, each performing at the highest of their abilities.
Senior shot put thrower Curt Jensen finished with All-American honors, placing eighth. Jensen sat in 17th place for the bulk of preliminaries, but his last throw, a mark of 19.49 meters (63-11.50), proved to be his best of the night, earning him a top spot in the finals. His last three throws could not surpass his preliminary mark, but coach Jeff Bovee was pleased with Jensen’s performance nonetheless.
“Curt had to throw big in order to get into the final. He wasn’t able to break into the top five, but he capped off a fantastic year.” Bovee said.
Senior Kristen Zillmer had a strong start to the first half of her race in the steeplechase, but struggled to stick with the top pack and fell back. She finished 23rd overall with a time of 10:42.86.
“Zillmer was right in the top-five pack for the first portion of the race, but once they got away from her, she kept sliding back,” Bovee said. “However, she had a phenomenal career here at ISU, and going to back-to-back NCAA’s is a testament to her work ethic.”
Underdog junior shot put thrower Jianna Williams entered the field at 24th, and finished 19th. Her first throw in the preliminaries proved to be her farthest at 57.22 meters (187-09), but it was not enough to qualify for the finals.
“Jianna was the big story to qualify for nationals after her big throw at regionals,” Bovee said. “She moved up five spots from what she was seeded, and I’m proud of her performance.”
Zillmer and Jensen will be leaving the ISU track and field team, as recent graduates of Illinois State. Though the pair will be greatly missed, the team is still looking forward to a new season in the fall.