For the first time since 1997, the Illinois State men’s and women’s track & field teams came home with two team titles after sweeping the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Championships, hosted by Northern Iowa. Following the clean sweep, Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Jeff Bovee was named MVC Men’s and Women’s Indoor Coach of the Year.
“Words cannot explain how proud I am of this group of men and women,” Bovee said. “They poured their hearts and souls into the competition this weekend. The energy that was brought across the board was a true team effort. Things this great don’t occur very often, and I can’t say how amazing this experience was for everyone involved.”
The men, who were the clear-cut favorite heading into the meet, completely dominated the competition. They finished the day with 182 points, besting the runner-up Indiana State (112) by 70 points. The women, who were expected to be in a barn-burner with Indiana State, had other plans. They pulled away from the Sycamores early on during day two, finishing with 174 points. The Sycamores ended the day with 139 points and were named the runner-up.
D’Jenne Egharevba and Anderson Devonish were named the Most Valuable Athletes of the meet, scoring the most points among the entire field of competitors. Egharevba and Jaylan McConico were deemed the Most Outstanding Track Athletes of the Meet, which is awarded to the female and male student-athlete that captured the highest-ranking individual performance on the NCAA list.
The Elite 17 Award is the highest achievement in academics and athletics by a student-athlete in each MVC-sponsored sport. This year’s winner was J.D. LaFayette, who won his second MVC Indoor 800-meter title with a time of 1:55.14. This comes only one year after Lafayette red-shirted due to injury. This also marks the second time Lafayette has received this award, as he was the award recipient at the 2016 MVC Indoor Championships as well.
In addition to McConico, who was crowned the 2018 MVC champion in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 7.64, which ranked third in the nation, shattered his own ISU school record, and qualified him for the NCAA Championships, the Redbirds posted two more performances that qualified for the NCAA Championships. Derrius Rodgers won the 60-meter dash title with a time of 6.65, in addition to placing second in the 200-meter dash (21.79) and running a leg on the MVC Champion 4×400-meter relay team. His 60-meter time of 6.60 from prelims was ranked sixth in the nation. The 2017 NCAA Indoor Second-Team All-American made his second appearance at the national meet. Kentre Patterson joined McConico on the national top-16 list in the 60-meter hurdles. Patterson posted a time of 7.75 to place second and claim All-Valley honors. He ranked eleventh in all of Division I.
Over two days, the Redbirds won a total of 15 MVC titles and broke seven Illinois State school records. In addition to all the MVC champions, a total of 22 student-athletes earned All-Conference accolades. On the women’s side, 27 of the 32 student-athletes scored points for the Redbirds. For the men, 23 of the 32 competitors tallied points for Illinois State. The Redbirds are the epitome of strength in numbers.