WICHITA, Kan. – For the fourth straight year Indiana State’s Major Clay will climb to the top spot on the awards podium as the Sycamore captured his fourth high jump championship at the 2012 State Farm Missouri Valley Conference outdoor Track & Field Championships Saturday. The competition is being held in Cessna Stadium on the campus of Wichita State University.
Indiana State also had a big night in the preliminaries of several events including the hurdles where two women and five men advanced to the finals on Sunday. The Sycamores also had a strong finish to the evening with Kalli Dalton setting an Indiana State record in a third place finish in the women’s 3,000 meter steeplechase and Dustin Betz taking second in the men’s 3,000 meter steeplechase.
The Sycamore men’s team sits in second place after the second day of the championships with 67.5 points as they trail pre-championship favorite Wichita State as the Shockers have 73 points. Northern Iowa is currently third with 50 while Southern Illinois is fourth with 47.5, Illinois State fifth with 43, Drake sixth with 27, and Bradley seventh with four points.
“We had a good day today,” John McNichols, Indiana State men’s track & field coach, said. “Qualifying was good and we have the tops seeds in the 100, 200 and 110 high hurdles.”
Wichita State also leads the women’s standings after the second day with 91.5 points. Southern Illinois is second with 78.5 with Illinois State third with 77 and Indiana State fourth with 47 points. Northern Iowa is currently fifth with 29.5 with Missouri State sixth with 11, Drake seventh with 9.5 and Bradley eighth with seven points.
“We had a great start to the day with the multi events,” Angele Martin, Indiana State women’s track & field coach, said. “The long jump and shot put were big events for us and Kalli finished off the day with an all-conference place and a new school record. I am proud of the teamwork today.”
Clay is the first four-time winner of the outdoor men’s high jump competition. The Sycamore senior has also won three straight MVC indoor titles giving him seven-straight high jump championships in conference action.
Clay was the only competitor to clear seven-feet during the competition and won by clearing 7-feet-0¼-inches (2.14 meters). Freshman teammate Jonathon Christensen took the silver by clearing a personal best height of 6-feet-11-inches (2.11 meters) in his first outdoor championship. Both earned All-Conference recognition for their efforts.
“Clay won his fourth straight title and Christensen was runner up with a height that should get him to the NCAA East Preliminary Round,” McNichols said.
Brandon Childs of Wichita State was third (6-feet-9¾-inches). ISU’s Robert Webb, fresh off his decathlon competition, and Jamal Hampton each cleared 6-feet-4-inches (1.93 meters) with Webb placed ninth and Hampton 10th.
Dalton earned All-Conference honors with a third place finish in the women’s 3,000 meter steeplechase with a school record time of 10:47.31, breaking the record set by Leah Durr in 2007 of 10:52.37. Hanna Mercer finished 10th in 11:21.00 and Andrea Prusz 11th in 11:27.99. Illinois State finished 1-2 in the event with Kristen Zillmer in first (10:35.82) and Elise Sigg second (10:40.45).
Betz finished second in the men’s 3,000 meter steeplechase with a time of 9:04.60 while Gabe Ocasio was 10th in 9:48.35. Betz, Wichita State’s Tomas Cotter and Southern Illinois’ Lucas Cherry ran in a pack for most of the race with Cotter pulling away in the down the home stretch for the win (9:00.74) and Betz holding off Cherry (9:06.94).
Nikki Snearley and Rachael Johnson were the top Sycamores in the women’s high jump as both cleared 5-feet-3 ¼-inches (1.61 meters) with Snearley placed 10th by and Johnson 11th. Southern Illinois sophomore Kenya Culmer won the event by clearing 5-feet-11½-inches.
Sycamore junior Felisha Johnson earned All-Conference honors in the women’s shot put as she placed third with a distance of 54-feet-3¼-inches (16.54 meters). Teammate Mary Theisen had a personal best throw of 52-feet-4 ½-inches (15.96 meters) to finish fourth. Southern Illinois’ Jeneva McCall won the event (58-feet-8½-inch) with Illinois State’s Brittany Smith second (56-feet-8¾-inches).
Chris Fields had his best ever finish in the men’s shot put as he placed fourth with a heave of 55-feet-6½-inches (16.93 meters). Illinois State’s Curtis Jensen won the title with a throw of 61-feet-5¾-inches.
“Fields broke the form chart in shot put,” McNichols said. “That helped because we did not have (Maurice) Lyke today who has the flu. Rollins also broke the form chart in the long jump.”
Kelly Steffen battled back from a disappointing finish in the women’s heptathlon to place fourth in the long jump while recording the eighth best distance in school history of 19-feet-2 ½-inches (5.85 meters). She was just a quarter-inch out of a top-three finish.
Ernest Rollins competed in the long jump for the first time in conference championship action and placed fourth with a personal best leap of 23-feet-5½-inches (7.15 meters). Robert Webb finished 15th with a leap of 21-feet-2½-inches (6.46 meters). Drake’s Dan Karys won the event with a leap of 24-feet-1-inch.
Sycamore teammate Jaquelle Spencer finished fifth with the 12th best leap in school history of 18-feet-11¾-inches (5.78 meters). Missouri State’s Kimsue Grant won the event (20-feet-9 ¼-inches) with Southern Illinois’ Malaikah Love second (20-feet-2½-inches) and Wichita State’s Tanya Friesen third (19-feet-2¾-inches).
MEN’S PRELIMINARIES: Greggmar Swift ran a personal best (third best in school history) 13.62 and posted the top time in the preliminaries of the men’s 110 meter hurdles while Duane Brown also advanced with the sixth best time of 14.35. Max Tuttle will lead three Sycamores into the 400 meter hurdles with the fourth best time of 53.35. Arqeil Shaw ran a personal best 54.25 for the sixth best in the preliminaries and Ray Skamay ran 54.14 to also advance with the seventh fastest time. Brown did not make the finals of the 400 hurdles after running 55.33 (10th fastest) in the prelims.
Justin Baxtron advanced to finals in two events, posting the fastest time in the preliminaries with a personal best 10.50 which also ties him for 10th best in school history. Baxtron also posted the fastest time in the 200 meter preliminaries of 21.49. Andrew Stull also advanced in the 200 meter with the third best time of the prelims of 21.63.
Kevin Piraino and Drew Gambill also advanced to Sunday finals. Piraino ran 48.82 of the fifth fastest time of the 400 meter prelims while Gambill ran 1:53.58 for the eighth fastest in the 800 meter prelims.
WOMEN’S PRELIMINARIES: Stacia Weatherford hit the final hurdle in the 100 meter hurdles and stumbled across the finish line but still advanced to the Sunday finals with a time that was just two-hundredths of a second off the school record. Weatherford was timed in 13.90 which is just off the record set by Erica Moore of 13.88 set in 2008.
The Sycamore also advanced in the 400 hurdles with the top time of 59.11. ISU’s Brittany Housel also advanced with the eighth best time of 1:03.86. Carmelia Stewart missed the cut with the 10 th fastest time of 1:04.75.
Macey Black, Leeann Michl, and Kaci Smith advanced to Sunday finals for the Sycamore women. Black ran 56.49 for the sixth fastest time in the 400 meter prelims. Michl and Smith both advanced in the 800 meters with Michl recording the fastest time in the prelims of 2:09.35 and Smith the eighth fastest of 2:13.53.
Steffen was in third place in the heptathlon after finishing second in the long jump which was the first event of the day. But the sophomore had three fouls in the javelin and did not score which kept her out of contention for all-conference. She did come back with a personal record in the 800 meters with a time of 2:24.39. She finished fifth in the competition with 4,460 points.
“Kelly was really disappointed during the javelin,” Martin said. “It takes a tremendous athlete to come back mentally and that is what she did. We need to work on her confidence but I expect her to come back strong next year.”
Patricia Merrion had an outstanding final day of competition with personal best efforts in the final two events. The Sycamore senior ran a personal best 2:21.97 to finish third in the 800 meters, threw a personal best distance of 95-feet-7-inches (29.14 meters) to place seventh in the javelin, and had a leap of 16-feet-8¾-inches (5.10 meters) to place sixth in the long jump. She started the day in ninth and finished in seventh with a personal best total of 4,209 points.
“Patty was a great competitor today,” Martin said. “I am very proud of her.”
Wichita State’s Tanya Friesen took the individual title with 5,472 points with Northern Iowa’s Paige Knodel second with 5,392 points, and Drake’s Brianna Isom Brummer third with 4,786 points.
MEN’S DECATHLON: Indiana State junior Robert Webb finished seventh in the men’s decathlon. Webb started off the second day of the decathlon by posting the fastest time in the 110 hurdles of 15.09 seconds.
“The last four events are not his strongest,” McNichols said. “But he gave a great effort today.”
Webb was 10th in the discus with throw of 97-feet-5-inches (26.69 meters), 10th in the javelin with a distance of 135-fet-11-inches (41.44 meters), and 10th in the 1500 meters with a time of 5:07.93. He did establish a new personal best in the pole vault by clearing 14-feet-5¼-inches (4.40 meters) and tie for seventh. The junior had his best finish in three Valley decathlons as he finished seventh overall and tied his personal best with 6,608 points.
Northern Iowa’s Daniel Gooris won his third straight MVC Decathlon Championship with 7,608 points. Wichita State’s Mac Griffith was second with 7,087 points while Shocker teammate Justin Mickey finished third with 7,031 points.