It was a banner year for Illinois State runners.

The women’s track and field program won its fourth consecutive Missouri Valley Conference indoor championships on February 26-28 in Cedar Falls, Iowa. On May 16 in Carbondale, the Redbirds won their third straight outdoor conference championship, setting a meet
record with 232 team points.

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During the indoor season, Kameesha Smith, who won the Missouri Valley Conference high jump for a second consecutive year, soared all the way to the national meet. Smith, who is using her extra year of eligibility granted because of COVID-19, earned second-team All-American honors by placing 10th at the NCAA indoor championships on March 12 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Smith’s best jump of the winter was a historic one, as she bested a 29-year-old school record, clearing the bar 1.82 meters (5 feet, 11.5 inches) high on February 12 at the Grand Valley State University Big Meet in Allendale, Michigan. She then broke her own record at the 2021 MVC Indoor Championships, clearing a personal best 1.83 meters (6 feet). Tiffani Archey ’93 previously set the record at 1.81 meters (5 feet, 11.25 inches) in 1992.

In outdoors, senior Jordyn Bruce was the MVC Most Valuable Performer after winning conference titles in both the heptathlon (5,439 points) and 400-meter hurdles (58.5 seconds).

Senior Sydney Laufenberg earned first-team All-American honors and placed fifth in the discus throw at the NCAA outdoor meet on June 12. Laufenberg’s throw of 58.02 meters (190 feet, 4 inches) qualified her for the Olympic Trials.

On the cross country course, the Illinois State men’s team won its first Missouri Valley Conference title in 19 years, taking home four of the first five spots at the league meet on March 3 in Evansville, Indiana. Senior Kevin Koski won the individual title while covering the 8,000-kilometer course in 24 minutes, 21.11 seconds. He became the first Redbird runner to win the individual crown since Scott Krapf ’09 won it all in 2009. Koski went on to place 99th at the NCAA Division 1 championships on March 15 in Stillwater, Oklahoma.