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Tuesday, May 08, 2007 | Track & Field
MVC Championship This Weekend; Weekly Track & Field Notebook
The 2007 State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championship is set to take place May 11-13, at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa and the coaches have voted Wichita State’s women and UNI’s men as favorites in the pre-championship poll. UNI's men and women enter the championship holding national rankings in the TrackWire top-25, the men are 18th and the women 23rd.
The Shocker women, who received all eight first-place votes, are looking to claim their sixth-consecutive women’s track title after winning each of the past three outdoor titles and the past two indoor titles.
Wichita State has a balanced team with strength in the distance events, holding the MVC best times in the 1,500m (Kellyn Johnson, 4:22.92)), 5,000m (Johnson, 16:03.99) and the 3,000m steeple (Mica Land, 10:25.61). The Shocker have a solid group of pole vaulters, with three of the league’s top-five marks on the season.
The Shockers will look to capitalize at the top-end of the javelin with Erica Evans (45.95m) and Jenna Fast (41.91m) and triple jump with Stephanie Miller (12.51m) and Erika Kovesi (12.40m), with multiple contenders and earn valuable placement points in the shot put.
Indiana State was marked second 48 points and enters the championship with talented mid-distance and distance runners capable of scoring in the meet. The Sycamores also boast some of the top hurdlers in the league at 400m, with three of the top-six efforts on the spring, led by Erica Moore’s league-best 59.04.
One point behind in the women’s vote is UNI. The Panthers will look to the field events to the bulk of their scoring, led by All-American Rachel Jansen in the shot (17.13m) and discus (55.21m).
Missouri State was selected fourth with 38 points behind a sprint and mid-distance contingent led by freshman Leander Ernest and Genna Williams. Ernest holds the Valley’s top time in the 400 (54.30) and 800m (2:07.50) runs while Williams is the 100m best-time holder at 11.69.
Illinois State (34 points), Southern Illinois (30), Drake and Bradley round out the women’s pole.
Among the final four, keep an eye out for NCAA Champion Brittany Riley of Southern Illinois in the hammer throw and sprinters Anna Lovell and Devon Williams of Illinois State.
On the men’s side, UNI is the choice with 35 of a possible 36 points with five first-place votes.
The Panthers will rely heavily on big point performances from a decorated group of field athletes including All-Americans Raven Cepeda (decathlon), Cody Eichmeier (long jump) and Andre Poljanec (pole vault). UNI holds the top-three pole vault marks in the conference to this point, as well as the top long jump and decathlon score.
UNI will be formidable force in sprint with Terrance Reid in the 200 (21.32) and 400m and mid-distance runners Tyler Mulder, Kyle Smith and Dorian Ulrey.
Indiana State is a strong second-place pick by the coaches, accumulating 31 points and a single first-place tally.
The Sycamores hold the top 400m (Sean Wright, 46.25) and 800m (Kurt Heimann, 1:48.95) times in the conference and continue their top-end performances in the distance events and Justin Kunz is the league-leader in the 5,000m (14:22.43) and 10,000m (29:51.66).
Indiana State is strong in the steeple with the top two league times and in the triple jump where Jordan Paladin and Corey Dowden own the second and third-best leaps, respectively.
Wichita State’s men are pegged third in the poll with 23 points.
Stephon Simmons and Seth Cavanee have both ran as fast at 10.8 in the 100m while Girtz Azis is a threat for the 800 and 1,500m titles.
The Shocker men also hold strength in the javelin, holding four of the top-six throws.
Southern Illinois (15 points) and Illinois State tied for fourth in the poll, while Drake was slotted sixth.
Performers to note include Drake’s Jordan Malmstrom, the league’s 100m best-time holder (10.65), and Derek Johnson, who has run 14.01 in the 110 hurdles. Also, Southern Illinois’ Antwon Stapleton in the triple jump (15.76m).
This week’s State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Athletes of the Week are Kurt Heimann of Indiana State, Dylan Schmidt of Wichita State, Leander Ernest of Missouri State and Janae Bridges of Indiana State
Heimann won the 800 meters at the Billy Hays Invitational on Friday with a time of 1:48.95. The time set a new school record, breaking the old mark of 1:49.46 set by Cory Buechler in 2000. The time also qualified Heimann for the NCAA Midwest Regional and is the top time in the Missouri Valley Conference this season.
Schmidt, an Andale, Kan., native, vaulted 16-6 3/4, a season best mark as well enough to tie for a third-place finish. Schmidt currently holds the No. 4 spot on the MVC outdoor best list.
Ernest continued her outstanding year by winning the 400-meter dash at Friday’s Arkansas Twilight Meet in Fayetteville, Ark. Ernest earned a regional qualifying mark with a her time of 54.30 and ranks at the top of the Valley’s best list.
Bridges won the women’s long jump competition at the Billy Hays Invitational on Friday with a leap of 19-feet-9.50-inches (5.94 meters), the leap is a regional-qualifying distance and the second-best in the Valley this season.
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