NORMAL, ill. – Illinois State track & field and cross country announced their award winners from the 2021-22 season last night at their annual banquet, held at the Aaron Leetch Club.
The Most Valuable Athletes for cross country were charlie wetzel and Caroline Meyers.
Meyers earned Honorable Mention All-Conference accolades following a 13th-place finish at the 2021 MVC Championships, and was the team’s top finisher at the NCAA Regionals, placing 66th overall in the field. In six races during the year, she ran a season-best time of 21:43.3 in the 6,000-meters at the conference championship.
Wetzel last season earned Honorable Mention All-MVC after a 13th-place finish at the 2021 Missouri Valley Conference Championships. He had the team’s fastest race in three of his five races during the season and was under 25:10 over 8,000-meters in three of four races during the season at that distance.
In track & field, Logan Calvin and Rachel Hickey were named the Track & Field Most Valuable.
A 2022 Outdoor Track and Field All-American and 2022 MVC Most Outstanding Field Athlete, Calvin had a remarkable senior season, both during the indoor and outdoor season. During indoors, he placed no higher than fourth in any of his eight competitions – each time over 60 feet – and secured an indoor PR of 19.29 meters at the MVC Championships. He won half of his six weight throw competitions during the indoor season, including taking home the MVC title during his final indoor MVC Championship. During his outdoor season he was just as strong, placing at least eighth in the shot put in each of his eight competitions – which includes a sixth-place finish at the 2022 Drake Relays while also earning All-America honors with a sixth-place finish at the 2022 NCAA Championship.
Competing in just three meets during the indoor season, Hickey made the most of her appearances, including finishing as the indoor MVC Championship runner-up in the 1,5000-meter run, a meet after setting a new personal-best with a 4: 45.52. She also set a new personal-best of 2:08.45 in the indoor 800-meter run two weeks after setting her PR in the 1,500. While her indoor season was strong, she was stellar during the outdoor campaign, advancing to the NCAA West Regional in the 800-meter run. Each of her last seven races in the event were sub-2:10, including a personal-best of 2:05.06 at the Billy Hayes Invitational before taking third at the MVC Championships a week later. In the 1,500 during the outdoor season she set a new personal-best with a time of 4:21.65 in late April, before finishing as the MVC Championship runner-up three weeks later.
The outstanding track athletes from the 2021-22 season were Arianna Walker on the women’s side and Riley Wells on the men’s side.
Walker was stellar all season, highlighted by a strong finish at the MVC Championships, as she finished second at the 2022 MVC Indoor Championships in the 200-meter dash, running a personal-best time of 23.98 – the second-fastest time in program history – while twice sprinting to a time of under 7.65 in the 60-meter dash – highlighted by a career-best 7.57 in the preliminaries, and then coming back to finish sixth in a time of 7.62. During the outdoors she competed three times in the 100-meter dash – each time finishing inside of the top-eight overall. Her personal-best of hers came at the Redbird Challenge with a time of 11.67, before placing third in the same event at the MVC Championship. In the 200-meter dash she had a pair of top-two finishes, winning the Illini Invitational in a wind-aided time of 23.77, and also taking second at the MVC Championship with a career-best time of 23.91 in the preliminaries, and came back with a 23.94 in the finals to finish second.
Wells was the undisputed MVC 800 meter champion during the season, winning both the indoor and outdoor races at the championships. Twice he ran a sub-1:50 800 during the indoor season, including a personal-best time of 1:49.79 in the middle of February before coming back with a 1:49.86 at the conference championships. During the outdoor season he won two 800-meter races – the Illini Classic in early April and the MVC Championships. He closed his season with a fantastic pair of races at the 2022 NCAA West Regional, taking a time of 1:47.82 to set a new personal-best with the second-best time in program history, finishing fifth during the first round, before coming back and missing a spot at the NCAA Championships by a fraction of a second, finishing in a time of 1:47.89 (.08 of a second behind the final at-large finisher).
The Redbirds named atleigh hamilton and Ariel Atias the two outstanding field athletes from the 2021-22 campaign.
Hamilton starred during the season in the long jump during her freshman season with the Redbirds, as she finished top-three five times in eight different competitions, including finishing as the runner-up at the MVC Championships. She saved her best for last during the season, as her longest jump of the season – 5.64 meters – came at the conference championships. She won the first two events of her outdoor collegiate career – the Redbird Invite and the Redbird Challenge – and closed her opening season with a runner-up finish at the MVC Championships behind a career-best distance of 5.85 meters – the ninth-best long jump total in program history.
MVC multi-event champion, Atias became the first MVC student-athlete since 2018 to win both the indoor and outdoor multi-event titles. During the indoor season he set a school-record in the heptathlon at the MVC Championships, earning 5,352 points. He competed just twice in the decathlon during the outdoor season, winning both, and setting a new school record with 7,343 points during the outdoor season. Also an accomplished javelin thrower, he advanced to the NCAA West Region meet after opening the outdoor season with a distance of 63.63 meters at the Texas Relays, and placed first in each of the next four javelin competitions he competed in, including taking the top spot at the 2022 MVC Championships with a distance of 63.10.
Each year, four athletes are named Redbirds Rising (two track athletes and two field athletes). This year St.Toria Harris earned the honor on the women’s side and Cole Maguire was chosen for the honor on the men’s side for the track and field athletes, while Ailey Mitchell and Zach Loomis were selected as the Rising Redbirds for the cross country athletes.
Harris competed in three different events during the indoor season – 60-, 400-, and 600-meter dashes, running a personal-best time of 55.84 in the 400, placing ninth at the MVC Championships in the event. She came into her own de ella during the outdoor season, sprinting to a time of 54.34 in the 400-meter dash at the MVC Championships, as the sixth-fastest time in program history earned her the conference title in the event.
Competing only during the outdoor season, Maguire took home the individual MVC title in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 51.09 – a personal-best and the third-fastest time in program history. He won three different 400-meter races during the outdoor season in addition to his top finish at the MVC Championship including the Redbird Challenge and the Clark Wood Invitational.
Mitchell finished as the Redbirds’ top runner in three cross country races during the season, including finishing with an eighth-place finish at the 2021 MVC Championships, earning All-MVC honors during the process. In all, she had three of the team’s four fastest 6,000-meter times during the course of the season.
Competing in four events for the ‘Birds during the cross country season, they ran a career-best 25:28.7 at the Bradley Pink Classic and ran to a time of 25:52.4 at the MVC Championships. He closed his opening season at ISU with a spot on the Redbird squad at the NCAA Regionals, running to a time of 32:48.0 over the 10,000-mter course.
Following each season two Redbirds, one female and one male, are selected based on the characteristics it takes to succeed at the Division I level: hard work, discipline, determination, desire, dedication, a positive attitude, and integrity. The individuals who meet these criteria are named recipients of the Excellence Award. This year, hannah johnson was chosen for the women and Brandon Gage for the men.
Johnson – competing in both the weight throw and shot put during the indoor season – never finished worse than ninth in either event during the ten competitions during the season. She won the weight throw at the John Coughlan Invite, the Coughlan-Malloy Cup, the Keck Select meet, the Titan Open and at the Illini Classic. She set a personal-best in the shot put during the indoor season at the Illini Invitational with a toss of 14.82 meters. During the outdoor season she finished inside of the top-10 all season in both the hammer throw and the shot put, including a third-place finish in the outdoor shot put at the Redbird Challenge and the Clark Wood Invitational before taking eighth at the MVC Championship in the event.
In his final go-around during both the indoor and outdoor season, Brandon Gage was a part of the Redbird 4×400-meter relay teams that won the indoor title and finished second during the outdoor season. The group’s time during the indoor season (3:14.17) was the sixth-fastest relay time in program history, while the outdoor time of 3:09.54 at the Illini Invitational is the seventh-fastest time in school history. Individually during the indoor season he took the crown for the individual 400-meter run, setting a new personal-best with a time of 47.92 – the seventh-fastest time in program history. In the outdoors he was the individual runner-up in the 400-meter dash in a time of 47.84.
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