On the final day of the 2019 Missouri Valley Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships, hosted by Northern Iowa, the Redbird men’s and women’s teams left their mark in the Illinois State record books, sweeping the indoor titles for the second-straight season. The back-to-back sweep for Illinois State is a first in program history.
“The make-up of this year’s wins on both sides was definitely different than a year ago, as we got a strong contribution from our field events, including the men’s high jump, men’s pole vault, women’s shot put, and multis” said Jeff Bovee, director of Track and Field and Cross Country. “We also played to our previous strengths, scoring points in the middle distance and sprints. Overall, midway through the day, the pendulum had swung toward the UNI (University of Northern Iowa) men and Indiana State women, but we kept our nose to the grindstone, and grinded out the win. I couldn’t be prouder of our team.”
The Redbirds fought relentlessly on their way to the top of the podium, with neither the men’s nor women’s teams leading the competition at the start of the second day of competition. This did not get the Redbirds down, but rather, added fuel to their fire to spark the Illinois State victory.
The Illinois State women, who found themselves in a battle with Indiana State for much of the day, placed first with 173 points. Indiana State finished as the runner-up to the Redbirds for their third-consecutive Valley championship, totaling 141 points. Southern Illinois rounded out the top three with 95 points.
The Redbird men were in a barn burner with UNI for much of the day, but pulled away from the Panthers after a 29-point output in the pole vault competition. The Redbirds prevailed with 159 points, as UNI finished second with 144.50 points. Indiana State completed the top-three with 95.50 points.
After leading both the Illinois State men and women to victory, Bovee was named the MVC Men’s and Women’s Indoor Coach of the Year for the second-straight season.
Montgomery named Most Valuable Athlete
Competing in the final meet of his collegiate career, Ben Montgomery went out with a bang, being named the MVC Men’s Most Valuable Athlete after scoring the most points among all student-athletes. Montgomery scored a total of 22 points between the 200-meter, 400-meter, 4×400-meter Relay, and triple jump, propelling the Redbird men to the top.
Montgomery experienced the greatest success in the 400-meter dash, claiming the 2019 MVC Indoor Championship with a time of 47.39. With the win, he becomes a two-time MVC Indoor champion in the event. Montgomery was far from finished, however, as he also received All-MVC honors in the 4×400-meter relay and 200-meter.
Montgomery, along with Avery Lyons, Brandon Gage, and Devon Kelly, earned the silver medal in the 4×400-meter relay, clocking in at 3:16.79. Montgomery also picked up a bronze medal in the 200-meter, placing third with the sixth-fastest time in university history (21.69). As if this wasn’t enough, Montgomery triple jumped for the first time since his freshman season to give the ‘Birds some extra cushion, placing fifth with a leap of 14.39m (47-02.50).
Individual Title Winners
In total, the Redbirds captured 10 individual championships over the course of the two-day meet. Several ‘Birds found themselves on the top of the podium for the first time of their careers, including Francis Ehigbai (men’s high jump), Kristin Higgins (women’s high jump), Kimathi Johnson (men’s 800-meter), and Hattie Plumb (women’s 800-meter).
Redbirds Jack Anstey (men’s mile) and Ryan Ashenbremer (men’s pole vault) added to their already-decorated resumes. After winning the 2018 MVC Outdoor 1,500-meter championship, Anstey became the 2019 Indoor Mile Champion today. Ashenbremer, who is only a sophomore, won his third-consecutive Valley title in the event.
Still other Redbirds, like Jordan Wilkerson, experienced break-through performances in their respective events on their way to the top. Wilkerson won the heptathlon competition for the first time of his career with a personal-best 5,073 points, a mark that ranks third all-time in Illinois State history.
For more information on 2019 MVC Indoor Track and Field Champions, including final results, visit GoRedbirds.com.