ST. LOUIS – The men and women of Indiana State have been selected as pre-championship favorites for this weekend's 2014 Missouri Valley Conference Indoor Track & Field Championship in Cedar Falls, Iowa, in a vote by the league coaches.
The UNI-Dome on the campus of Northern Iowa will serve as host for the meet as the Sycamores look to continue their winning ways that were firmly established when they took home both the men's and women's outdoor titles in the spring
The Sycamore men's team received 46 points and five first place votes in this year's poll. Indiana State will be led by this season's six-time MVC Indoor Track Athlete of the Week, Greggmar Swift. Swift holds the number-two time in the nation in the men's 60-meter hurdles. Cross Country Athlete of the Year John Mascari holds the league's best times in the 3,000m and 5,000m runs as well. The Sycamores hold the top spot in the Missouri Valley best lists in four different events. On the women's side, the Sycamores have been tabbed as the pre-championship favorites as well. They will be led by Katie Wise, a five-time MVC Indoor Track Athlete of the Week this season and a top-25 sprinter in the nation in the 60m dash. The Sycamore women have the top position in six different events.
Wichita State's Men's Team is ranked second and received 42 points in the pre-championship poll as well as a first place vote. Austin Bahner possesses one of the top-five scores in the country in the men's indoor heptathlon, and will look to bring home a Valley title in the event. The Wichita State women are the pre-championship number-three and are led by their Valley best 4x400m relay team and one of the conference's best high jumpers, Ashley Petersen. She holds the number-two ranking in the event, having cleared 5' 9.75" at the Mark Colligan Memorial in January.
Newcomer Loyola is ranked third in the pre-championship poll on the men's side with 33 points. They are led by star distance runner Sam Penzenstadler who holds the best time in the league in both the 800m and mile run. He broke the four-minute barrier and the MVC record earlier this season in the mile. On the women's side, the Ramblers are ranked 5th with 46 points. Alyvia Clark holds the best times in the conference in both the mile run and in the 3,000m by over six seconds.
Southern Illinois' men's and women's teams are ranked fourth and second, respectively, in the MVC pre-championship poll, with both receiving a first place vote as well. The 2012 champion SIU men own the top Valley mark in the high jump (Kyle Landon) as well as the number two spot in the shot put (Josh Freeman). The women's team boasts several strong performances as well, especially in the throws, with Sophia Lozano and DeAnna Price holding the top two spots in the weight throw. Price also holds second place in The Valley in the shot put.
The Illinois State men are tabbed fifth in the poll, receiving 24 points. They will be anchored by one of the nation's top throwers, Curt Jensen. A three-time Indoor Field Athlete of the Week honoree this season, Jensen boasts the third-longest shot put mark in the country and will aim to capture The Valley crown. The throwing prowess of the Redbirds doesn't end there, however, as Akil Mills also ranks amongst the top-10 nationally in the weight throw. The women are ranked fourth with 48 points and are led by Julia Ott in the pole vault and Shandel Ellis in the sprints. Ellis ranks second in the 200m, only .03 seconds off of Katie Wise's top mark of 24.42 seconds.
The UNI Men are tabbed as the number-six team in the pre-championship poll. Brandon Carnes could certainly stake his claim to the title of fastest man in The Valley, as he holds the conference's top time in the 60m and 200m. Weston Riesselman holds the top time in the long jump as well. On the women's side, the Panthers have been tabbed as the number-six team in the poll as well. They are led by Paige Knodle in the pentathlon, and Libby Torresani in the pole vault.
Drake rounds out the poll on the men's side, ranking seventh, while the Bulldog women claim eighth. Brogan Austin has cemented himself as one of the league's best distance runners, as he holds the second-best mark in the 5,000m with a time of 13:59.71. The Drake women are led by Kayla Bell in the triple jump, and Tiara Winston in the 200m dash.
Missouri State's women rank seventh in the pre-championship poll. Althia Maximilien and Robiann Broomfield lead the way for the Bears in track and field, respectively. Maximilien holds the top spot in The Valley in the 400m dash.
Bradley rounds out the women's poll in ninth, receiving 13 points. They are spearheaded by Emily Delvo, Sarah McMahon and Kristen Busch.
Men's MVC Indoor Track and Field Pre-Championship Poll
1. Indiana State (5), 46 pts.
2. Wichita State (1), 42 pts.
3. Loyola, 33 pts..
4. Southern Illinois (1), 27 pts.
5. Illinois State, 24 pts.
6. UNI, 16 pts.
7. Drake, 8 pts.
Women's MVC Indoor Track and Field Pre-Championship Poll
1. Indiana State (4), 75 pts.
2. Southern Illinois (2), 71 pts.
3. Wichita State (3), 65 pts.
4. Illinois State, 48 pts.
5. Loyola, 46 pts.
6. UNI, 38 pts.
7. Missouri State, 31 pts.
8. Drake, 16 pts.
9. Bradley, 15 pts.