|ISU set to battle for 2013 MVC championship title|
|Written by Kristi Demonbreun, Sports Editor|
|Thursday, 21 February 2013 10:08|
After about a month and a half of indoor competition, the Illinois State men’s and women’s track and field teams are gearing up for the Missouri Valley Conference Indoor Championships at Northern Iowa. Head coach Elvis Forde is looking forward to the weekend of competition for the Redbirds.
“It’s a long way leading up to [conference] and I just hope everyone is healthy … we can only go in thinking positively and about winning,” Forde said.
After a third-place upset at the 2012 indoor championships, the women’s team is heading into conference with a thirst for the title.
“We have been working really hard, and I know we have what it takes to get [the title],” junior distance runner Kristen Zillmer said. “I know that if everyone comes out and runs their best we can do some pretty big things this weekend.”
Zillmer is ranked second in the 800-meter run at 2:10.82 between two Indiana State runners with times of 2:08.85 and 2:12.17, respectively.
In the mile-run junior Rachael Brewer is ranked second (4:45.14), followed by Zillmer (4:52.14) and Kelly McShea (4:52.94). Brewer is also ranked second in the 3,000-meter run (9:39.81) and 5,000-meter run (16:41.14).
“Rachael has been having a fantastic year, and she is going to be doing a lot of work this weekend. I think she is up to the challenge and I am excited for her,” Forde said.
The only thing standing in the distance crew’s way is First Team All-American Aliphine Tuliamuk-Bolton of Wichita State. Bolton is ranked first in the mile-run (4:45.14), 3,000-meter run (9:07.21) and 5,000-meter run (15:25.47). Bolton’s 5,000-meter run time ranks her second in the nation, but Zillmer has had an eye on Bolton all year and is ready for the challenge.
“[Bolton] is more of an endurance athlete so I know that if I just stick with her for the majority of the race … I can out kick her because I have the speed on her, but she definitely has the endurance on me,” Zillmer said.
The ISU distance-medley relay team is ranked first over Indiana State by about 20 seconds. If the ’Birds can hold that spot it will be the third-consecutive MVC title for the relay. The ’Birds will also be fighting Indiana for the 4x400 relay title. ISU is ranked second with a time of 3:42.68 to first-ranked Indiana’s 3:41.65.
Senior sprinter Sade Sealy will also be pulling a lot of weight for the women. Sealy will be pursuing her fourth MVC title in the 400-meter dash. She is ranked second with a time of 54.24.
“I think [Sealy] is the fittest she has been in my time here … there is a sense of purpose and she has approached this year with a whole different attitude,” Forde said.
Senior Brittany Smith will also be a top performer for the ’Birds. Smith is ranked second in both the shot put and weight throw to Indiana State’s Felisha Johnson. Johnson is ranked first in the nation for the weight-throw and second for shot put.
“I know it hurt last year … but I have seen the stealth in them this year and a kind of resilience that says they want to be champions,” Forde said.
The men’s team has faced a lot of adversity this year, but No. 5-ranked 400-meter dash runner Coty Kramer remains focused heading into the championships.
“I’m just worried about my own race and winning first in my heat. I just have to go out there and not let my anxiety get the best of me,” Kramer said.
Tyler Morse has stepped it up in his debut season as a Redbird. Morse is ranked in the top 15 in the mile run and 3,000-meter run.
Forde addressed Morse’s positive mentality to help push some of the returnees like juniors Sean Senf and Ryan Rutherford.
“Sean is one of the ones I will say that has worked the hardest to get where he is at. You know Ryan Rutherford is talented, but I think Sean has really moved his gears up,” Forde said.
The Redbirds will begin their battle for the MVC title Saturday in Cedar Falls, Iowa.