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U.S. Olympic trials have an Illinois State flare

Four members of the Illinois State men’s and nationally ranked women’s track and field teams will be competing in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials for the chance to represent the United States in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London.

This is the first time in head track & field coach Elvis Forde’s tenure that this many individuals have competed in the U.S. Olympic Trials. The Illinois State program itself has not had an Olympian compete since Adeola Aboyade-Cole and Bruce Ijirigho in 1976 at Montreal.

Junior Tim Glover is among them. He won the 2011 NCAA Division I National Title in the javelin with a mark of 263-06. He improved his mark this past April at the Sea Ray Relays, throwing a staggering 266-09 (81.31m) to win the competition by more than 50 feet.

Junior thrower Brittany Smith earned her spot at the trials at the Sea Ray Relays in the shot put, before doing the same at the 2012 Missouri Valley Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships in the hammer. At the Sea Ray Relays, Smith chucked the shot 58-09.50, winning the event by throwing two feet further than anyone else in the competition. At the MVC championships, she took second place with a mark of 222-10, earning All-Valley honors.

Senior Aisha Praught solidified her spot in April at the trials at the prestigious Mt. SAC Relays in dominating fashion. The Moline native ran a 9:51.30 in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, finishing as the top collegiate athlete and the third-fastest between all five sections. The 2012 NCAA Runner-up in the indoor mile, Praught’s time of 9:51.30 shattered the Illinois state record by 32 seconds (10:23.15) and the Missouri Valley Conference record by 21 seconds (10:12.28). She was five seconds shy of making the all-time performance list in NCAA Division I history.

Senior Leigh Petranoff is the fourth Redbird headed to the U.S. Olympic Trials. The four-time MVC Champion and All-American in the javelin, Petranoff earned her spot at the Illinois State vs. Southern Illinois dual meet in April. Her mark of 173-03 broke her previous MVC and Illinois State records, while setting a new Redbird Track and Field Complex record in the process.

Follow the four Redbirds on NBC and NBC Sports Network. The televised schedule is as follows.

9-11 p.m. ET, Friday, June 22 on the NBC Sports Network
8-9 p.m. ET/PT, Saturday, June 23 on NBC
7-8 p.m. ET/PT, Sunday, June 24 on NBC
9-11 p.m. ET/PT, Monday, June 25 on NBC Sports Network
9-11 p.m. ET/PT, Thursday, June 28 on NBC Sports Network
6-8 p.m. ET, Friday, June 29 on NBC Sports Network
9-10 p.m. ET/PT, Saturday, June 30 on NBC
7-8 p.m. ET/PT,  Sunday, July 1 on NBC

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