|ISU makes showing at Nationals|
|Written by Tawni Ricketts, Sports Editor|
|Tuesday, 12 June 2012 17:12|
The Illinois State track and field team closed out its season in successful fashion, with four athletes competing in the NCAA Championships, emerging from it with one NCAA title, two NCAA runners-up, and four Redbirds continuing their competitive journey to the 2012 Olympic trials.
"To come here and perform how we did across the board at the championships shows how hard the support staff has been working with our athletes," head coach Elvis Forde said.
For the second consecutive year, junior Tim Glover claimed the NCAA Division I National Title in the javelin throw with a mark of 268-00 (81.69m). Glover’s efforts broke both the ISU and the Missouri Valley Conference records, and improved his previous American and collegiate leading mark of 266-09 this season by over a foot.
"Tim has worked very hard to get to where he is," Forde said. "What he has done has not only been a very bright light for himself, but also for Illinois State University. We all are keeping our fingers crossed for him over these next two months or so that he achieves that automatic mark of 82 meters and finishes the Olympic trials in the top three."
Thrower Brittany Smith also reaped success in the NCAA tournament, as she earned two runner-up finishes in both the hammer throw and the shot put.
"To finish second in both the shot put and hammer, while setting a new career and school mark at the same time, shows just how hard she has been working," Forde said. "Brittany has been stellar as an athlete at ISU since she was a freshman."
Smith’s first throw of finals—a 58-04.75 marking—held five inches further than MVC rival Jeneva McCall of Southern Illinois.
"She always seems to have that edge on me every year—she’s older than me and she has more experience," Smith said. "It felt good [to beat her], but honestly, she’s the reason why I think I throw so far. She’s one of my biggest competitors. I really look up to her and use her to build my throws."
Smith led the women’s track and field team to a 14th place finish in the NCAA Championship—the highest the team has scored since 1983 when they finished 39th.
Meanwhile, Glover led the men’s team to a 29th place finish, as he scored all of the team’s 10 points with his championship title in the javelin.
Men’s thrower Akil Mills and women’s runner Aisha Praught also competed in the NCAA Championship tournament.
Mills snagged 11th place in the hammer throw with a mark of 208-08—four feet further than his previous career best.
Praught ended the tournament prematurely, as a slip-up on a barrier in the 3,000-meter steeplechase semifinals caused a fall that would open a 45-meter gap between her and the field.
Praught’s conclusion at the NCAA tournament also marked the conclusion of her career as a Redbird.
The All-American finished her ISU bout with an NCAA Runner-up performance during the indoor season, two MVC titles, 11 All-Valley performances, and ranks No. 1 in ISU history in the mile and steeplechase.
Praught, Mills, Glover, and Smith however, were just four of 16 ISU track and field members who competed in the NCAA championship tournament. Among the other 12 were seniors Kendric Smith, Mike Ziegler, Mat Smoody, Tori Ziegler, Leigh Petranoff, Tyler Knight, and Becky Anderson, as well as Curt Jensen, Rachael Brewer, Sade Sealy, Elise Sigg, and Kristen Zillmer.