Championship Time for the Track and Field Bears
The Track and Field Bears will travel to Cedar Falls, Iowa this weekend for the 28th annual Missouri Valley Conference Championships in hopes of winning their sixth indoor championship under head coach Ronald Boyce.
The UNI Dome will host a talented field Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 27-28, that includes the 12th- and 18th-ranked teams in the nation in Southern Illinois and Indiana State. While Boyce is impressed with the programs SIU and Indiana State have built, he said the Bears will not be focused on those prodigious rankings.
"At the end of the day, the bottom line is all of the rankings and what they do and what they have done doesn't really make a lot of difference. It will all add up on just one day," Boyce said. "We look forward to it and we don't think about those things. We line up and we go to work."
Coming off a third-place finish at last year's meet, the Bears will rely on past MVC Champions in their attempt to unseat the defending champions, Southern Illinois.
Mareneika Goffe (Sr., Montego Bay, Jamaica) won the outdoor high jump last season and her 2010 season-best, 5-06.50, is only an inch and a half off the top indoor MVC performance this season. The Bears also have three members returning sprinters from the outdoor 4x400-meter relay champion in Yaneika Malcolm (Sr., Montego Bay, Jamaica), Corteneé Boulard (Sr., Beaumont, Texas) and Rashida Allen (Jr., Montego Bay, Jamaica). Allen placed third in the 200-meter dash at last year's indoor championships.
Malcolm is no stranger to MVC titles. In addition to last year's 4x400-meter win, she took home MVC individual championships in both 2008 MVC meets as well as the 2007 outdoor championships. Boyce expects big contributions from her in the relay and in the 400-meter dash.
Sophomore distance extraordinaire Terry Phillips (Kansas City, Mo.) seeks her first track MVC championship to go along with her 2009 Cross Country Individual Title. Phillips has the top MVC times in both the mile-run, 4:55.41, and the 3,000-meter run, 9:35.79, and will be a key cog in the Bears' scoring.
"We have a big hitter on our distance side, Terry Phillips, who is going to try to make some claim at the indoor meet," Boyce said. "She's coming off cross country with a championship and having a stellar indoor season, so she should be pretty interesting to watch."
In the field, Jeláni Kelly (So., St. Louis, Mo.), a 2009 NCAA Outdoor Regional Qualifier, will be a threat in the shot put and the weight throw after earning four top-five finishes this season.
A talented group of freshmen will add to the scoring, specifically in the distance and jump events. Maggie Sutor (Mokena, Ill.) has won two of her last three 800-meter runs, setting a personal best, 2:14.85, in her last race. Abby Schlater (Council Bluffs, Iowa) has two top-five finishes on the year and has excelled in the mile. Emily Beaver (Diamond, Mo.) has also been strong in the mile, as well as the 3,000-meter run.
Cheyenne Stewart (Christ Church, Barbados) has been a consistent performer in the high jump, while Kimsue Grant (Arlington, Va.) and Jordan Bond (Normal, Ill.) own the fifth-(39-04.00) and sixth-best (38-08.25) MVC marks, respectively, in the triple jump.
The USTFCCCA has the Bears ranked 23rd in the Midwest Region, putting them fifth of the seven MVC teams in the region. Indiana State is ranked fifth overall in the Great Lakes Region.
The Bears' first event will take off just before 2 p.m. Saturday and they will compete up until Sunday's award ceremony, scheduled for 4:15 p.m. Live stats will be available through the track and field schedule page on MissouriStateBears.com.