TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – It has been a long season and a strange spring, weather wise, but the work and preparation of the Indiana State track & field team comes to its culmination this weekend with the 2013 Missouri Valley Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Des Moines, Iowa.
The Indiana State men have won the last two outdoor championships but the women have not stood on the top podium since the 1999 season. That may change this year but the Sycamores face some good competition in their quest for the championships.
The Sycamore men were chosen as the pre-championship favorite in a vote of league coaches that was released Wednesday by the Valley office while the Indiana State women were selected to finish second. The league coaches also foresee a battle between the Sycamores and the Shockers of Wichita State in the battle for supremacy of both genders.
Indiana State received six of the seven first place votes on the men’s side and totaled 48 points to earn the favorites role. Wichita State garnered the other first place vote and scored 42 points for second with Southern Illinois also in the mix as they were picked third with 36 points. Northern Iowa came in fourth with 25 points with Drake fifth (21), Illinois State sixth (17) and Bradley seventh (7).
The top two teams flip flopped on the women’s side with Wichita State earning all eight first place votes and scoring 64 points to be the pre-championship favorite. Indiana State is second with 54 points with Illinois State third at 49 points. Southern Illinois was picked to place fourth (41) with Missouri State fifth (30), Northern Iowa sixth (23), Drake seventh (19), and Bradley eighth (8).
The Sycamore men defeated Wichita State 164½ to 137 to win the 2013 MVC Indoor Championship with Southern Illinois and Northern Iowa tying for third (121). It was Indiana State’s second indoor title in three years. Wichita State held off Indiana State 147 to 138 to win the 2013 MVC Women’s Indoor Championship with Illinois State third (122).
Wichita State was the favorite for the 2012 men’s championship but the Sycamores claimed their second straight title with a 185½ to 175 win over the Shockers. Wichita State did win the women’s 2012 title with the Sycamores finishing fourth.
The Sycamores enter this weekend's championship leading the Valley in seven events, and hold two of the top-five positions in the 100m, 200m, 5000m, 10,000m, 110m hurdles, 400m hurdles, 3,000m steeplechase, and shot put. Junior Brandon Pounds holds the Valley's 2nd best hammer throw. Senior hurdler Greggmar Swift will also contend for the title in the 110m hurdles, owning the tenth best time in the nation.
On the women's side, the Sycamores' Stacia Weatherford will look to continue her strong season in the hurdles and 400m races. Weatherford owns the top time in the Valley in the 400m hurdles. Star field athlete Felisha Johnson will look to dominate Valley competition in the shot put, discus, and hammer throw. She owns the top distance in the Valley for the shot put, and top five throws in the other two events. Eyes will also be focused on freshman Katie Wise, the Valley's top short sprinter in the 100m.
Several Sycamores who earned All-Conference recognition a year ago return for another shot at the golden ring including a pair of senior throwers in Brandon Pounds and Felisha Johnson. Pounds is the defending champion in the hammer throw while also placing second in the discus throw. Johnson was third in the shot put and discus while also placing fifth in the hammer throw at the 2012 championship.
Greggmar Swift returns to defend his title in the 110 meter hurdles as does Justin Baxtron in the 200 meters. Baxtron also finished second in the 100 meters a year ago. Other All-Conference individuals returning this year are Kevin Piraino (second in 400 meters), Dustin Betz (second in 3,000 meter steeplechase), Max Tuttle (second in 400 meter hurdles). Baxtron, Piraino, and Devin Price were also members of the 4x100 meter relay team that placed third in 2012. Betz won the steeplechase in 2011.
Leeann Michl, Stacia Weatherford, and Macey Black were members of the 4x400 meter relay team that won the event at the 2012 championship. Michl was also second in the 800 meters, Weatherford second in the 100 meter hurdles and 400 meter hurdles, Richelle Kimble tied for second in the pole vault, and Kalli Dalton was third in the 3,000 meter steeplechase. Nicole Hope missed the 2012 championship but won the pole vault in 2011.
The 2013 Missouri Valley Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships will be conducted at Drake University on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The multi-events will begin the action at 11 a.m. (ET) Friday with competition in the men’s Decathlon (100 meters, long jump, shot put, high jump, and 400 meters) and at 12 p.m. (ET) with the women’s Heptathlon (100 meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, and 200 meters).
Also scheduled for Friday are the men’s and women’s hammer throw, men’s and women’s javelin throw, and the women’s pole vault along with the men’s and women’s 10,000 meter races.
Saturday’s competition opens at 11:30 a.m. (ET) with the final three events of the Heptathlon (long jump, javelin throw, and 800 meters) and at 12:30 p.m. (ET) with the final five events of the Decathlon (110 meter hurdles, discus throw, pole vault, javelin throw, and 1500 meter run).
Men’s and women’s shot put, high jump, and long jump will also be contested on Saturday starting at 4 p.m. (ET). It will be a day of preliminary races on the track starting with the 100 (women) and 110 (men) meter hurdles at 6 p.m. (ET) and followed by the 400 meters, 100 meters, 800 meters, 400 meter hurdles, and 200 meters. The finals of the men’s and women’s 3,000 meter steeplechase will start at 8 p.m. (ET).
Sunday’s competition opens at 1 p.m. (ET) with several field events including the men’s and women’s triple jump and discus throw along with the men’s pole vault. Competition on the track starts at 2 p.m. (ET) with the 4x100 meter relay followed by the 1500 meters and finals in the 100 and 110 hurdles, 400 meters, 10 meters, 800 meters, 400 meter hurdles, and 200 meters. The final individual event will be the men’s and women’s 5,000 meters which begins at 4:05 p.m. (ET) with competition wrapping up starting at 4:55 p.m. (ET) with the running of the 4x400 meter relay.