An injury-filled season has kept Wichita State’s Cassie Craig from performing her best this spring, but that changed Friday in the first day of the Missouri Valley Conference track and field Championships.
Craig took first place in the pole vault, something both she and coach Steve Rainbolt weren’t expecting.
“I’ve had a really rough year, I’ve had a lot of injuries, and I haven’t really had a consistent day,” Craig said. “I came here a complete underdog, I think I was ranked fifth or sixth, but I just wanted to score.”
Craig’s win gave the WSU women’s team 10 points, helping WSU exceed its pole vault projection by six points.
After the first day of the MVC Championships, the WSU women’s team is in first place, while its men’s team is tied for fifth — two days of competition remain.
“She passed a bar in a critical time in the competition in order to put herself in a position to win, but it was a gutsy thing to do at such a high height. Then she made the next bar on her first attempt, and it was a huge win for our team,” Rainbolt said. “Come from behind is right, she did not come into the meet as a favorite.”
The WSU women’s team also earned unexpected points in the 10,000 as three WSU participants placed in scoring positions. Aliphine Tuliamuk finished first, followed by Scarla Nero in second and Sharon Zeller in eighth.
“I really wanted them to run well. The plan when I was running was just to help Scarla (Nero) as much as I could, I wanted her to pull away from the rest of the pack. When I saw her running and separating from everyone I was excited,” Tuliamuk said. “For Sharon (Zeller) to score, that is incredible. To move a point for her team and it wasn’t expected, that was really nice.”
Brett Trudo finished second in the javelin for the WSU men’s team, falling short of defending national champion Tim Glover from Illinois State.
“I don’t feel too bad losing to a national champion,” Trudo said. “I threw pretty well, a few centimeters off my PR, but it’s nice throwing that far and still having some things to work on.”
“Every event is important for the men’s side. On the women’s side, we’ve had a nice day,” Rainbolt said. “Very close race for the men. For the women, every event that we hold form we’re getting closer to winning.”
Team Scores—1. Indiana State 28, 2. Southern Illinois 40.5, 3. Illinois State 22, 4. Drake 15, 5. Wichita State 14, 5. Northern Iowa 14.
Hammer —1. Pounds, Indiana State, 209-10; 2. Hurt, Northern Iowa, 198-1; 3. Jensen, Illinois State, 197-8; 4. Mills, Illinois State, 196-1; 5. Sauer, Southern Illinois, 195-0. Javelin—1. Glover, Illinois State, 254-6; 2. Trudo, Wichita State, 237-1; 3. Beeler, Drake, 208-7; 4. Rizzo, Wichita State, 206-6; 5. Harp, Drake, 204-4. 10,000—1. Padgett, Indiana State, 31:23.53; 2. Escalera, Indiana State, 31:24.46; 3. Anderson, Southern Illinois, 31:33.01; 4. Wells, Drake, 31:35.33; 5. Ehrenheim, Southern Illinois, 31:38.61.
Decathlon—(scores after first day) 1. Young, Wichita State, 3903; 2. Gooris, Northern Iowa, 3766; 3. Griffith, Wichita State, 3639; 4. Boese, Wichita State, 3630; 5. Webb, Indiana State, 3602.
Team Scores—1. Wichita State 49.5, 2. Southern Illinois 40.5, 3. Illinois State 32, 4. Northern Iowa 15, 4. Indiana State 15, 5. Bradley 4.
Hammer —1. McCall, Southern Illinois, 225-9; 2. Smith, Illinois State, 222-10; 3. Fortney, Southern Illinois, 194-10; 4. Price, Southern Illinois, 194-9; 5. Johnson, Indiana State, 191-9. Pole Vault—1. Craig, Wichita State, 13-4.5; 2. Wexter, Northern Iowa, 13-0.75; 2. Kimble, Indiana State, 13-0.75; 4. Harbert, Illinois State, 12-2.75; 4. Detmer, Wichita State, 12-2.75. Javelin—1. Petranoff, Illinois State, 161-4; 2. Gilbert, Wichita State, 136-8; 3. Dreyer, Southern Illinois, 129-5; 4. Knodle, Northern Iowa, 127-6; 5. Abrahamian, Wichita State, 126-6.
10,000—1. Tuliamuk, Wichita State, 34:53.20; 2. Nero, Wichita State, 36:03.28; 3. Gibson, Southern Illinois, 36:20.96; 4. Brewer, Illinois State, 36:30.30; 5. McMahon, Bradley, 36:32.35.
Heptathlon—(scores after first day) 1. Friesen, Wichita State, 3207; 2. Knodle, Northern Iowa, 3106; 3. Steffen, Indiana State, 2924; 4. Ekweariri, Wichita State, 2871; 5. Isom, Drake, 2854.