A few more trips around the track at Cessna Stadium are all that remain for Wichita State’s Audacia Moore. Unfortunately, she won’t be in top shape in this weekend’s Missouri Valley Conference track and field championships.
“I’m really angry with my foot right now,” she said. “I just know it started hurting one day and just kept getting worse.”
Moore is running with a stress fracture in her right foot. It won’t keep her from competing in five events and doing her best to score points for the Shockers. Moore is entered in the 100 meters, the 200, the long jump, the triple jump and will likely run in the 400 relay. The injury can’t get worse, so she is free to compete and try to deal with the pain. It’s been that way most of the outdoor season.
“Everybody has aches and pains,” she said. “We’re all still playing on the same field. It’s just something you just have to run through. Once the guns goes off, you’re not thinking about your foot anymore.”
Moore, a senior from Heights, is talented enough that coach Steve Rainbolt is writing her down for 25-30 points, making her one of the “foundational” athletes expected to carry the Shockers to the women’s championship. The WSU men are also favored. Moore enters the weekend with the MVC’s best time in the 200 (23.57 seconds), fifth in the long jump (18-8 1/2), sixth in the 100 (11.98) and eighth in the triple jump (38-9).
“She’s really demonstrated a lot of toughness,” Rainbolt said. “She just keeps fighting and keeps competing.”
Moore enters the meet as a 10-time MVC champion in indoor and outdoor meets. In 2011, she won the outdoor 100 and 200, ran on the champion 400 relay team and finished third in the triple jump.
It is fitting she ends her MVC career at Cessna Stadium, where she won the Class 6A 100 and 200 for Heights as a junior and senior at the Kansas state meet. Alicia Moore, her mother, set WSU records in the 100 and 200.
“It’s kind of bittersweet,” Audacia said. “This is the track I started on.”
Moore’s versatility is one reason MVC coaches voted the Shockers the favorite with 60 points and five of the eight first-place votes. Illinois State (with 54 points) is WSU’s top competition. The Shockers are also strong in distance events, where Rainbolt expects Aliphine Tuliamuk to score 28 points with two firsts and a second. They should also score significant points in the heptathlon, the javelin and the high jump.
“Nobody wants to lose at home,” Moore said. “This is your place, and you want to go home with the trophy. It lights a fire under your butt.”
The WSU men are a stronger favorite, taking all seven first-place votes ahead of defending champion Indiana State. The Shockers should dominate the decathlon, where they enter with five of the top six spots. Todd McKown is the favorite in the 110 hurdles, although a sore right hamstring may hamper his time. He also ranks third in the 200. Dylan Hartnett is the defending champion in the 200 and 400.
The MVC meet is at Cessna Stadium for the first time since 2006, when the WSU women won and the men placed second. Since then, the women won titles in 2007 and 2011 and the men in 2010.
“I think there’s a little more pressure just because there’s more of your friends and more of your family, and you don’t want to look bad in front of all of them,” Hartnett said. “There’s also confidence, because we train there every day.”