By Craig Pearson
TERRE HAUTE — The Indiana State women’s track team heads into this weekend’s Missouri Valley Conference championships looking for the team’s first indoor league title since 2001.
Coach John Gartland also guided the women’s squad to indoor championships from 1992-94 in addition to his six outdoor crowns.
Gartland’s team was picked second to Northern Iowa in the pre-meet coaches poll. The men’s team, coached by John McNichols, was picked third out of six squads. Competition begins Saturday at Cedar Falls, Iowa.
A pair of sophomores, Sullivan native Erica Moore and Terre Haute North graduate Kylie Hutson, have led the Sycamore women into the top 50 in national rankings, which are based on a projected finish at the NCAA championships.
Both Moore (pentathlon) and Hutson (pole vault) have reached provisional qualifying marks in their events.
Hutson’s pole vault mark of 4.16 meters is seventh best in the nation, according to www.trackshark.com.
Moore’s pentathlon score of 3,993 set on Feb. 14 at Iowa State currently ranks as the eighth best mark in the nation.
“I’m glad I’ll be able to give Kylie some company this year at nationals,” Moore said.
Moore said this season has been much more enjoyable for more reasons than her upcoming trip to NCAAs on March 14-15 at Fayetteville, Ark.
The chemistry and geology major is excited that the Sycamores have a much-improved chance at a conference title. ISU had a rare finish in the bottom half of the league last year.
“The team is a lot more focused. Workouts have been faster. Everyone is working so much harder,” Moore said. “It’s showing in our performances. We’re exciting about practicing and competing. I have best teammates, coaches and parents in the world.”
Terre Haute North grad Kayla Alexander is seeded second in the 5,000 meters with her time of 17:48.26, and Lauren Martin is the top seed in the triple jump.
“Our team is so excited. I see a complete 180 from last year, just the morale on our team. Everyone is so pumped up about it.”
Moore, who won the MVC pentathlon title as a freshman, will not be competing in the event this weekend. Instead, she’ll run the 60-meter hurdles, long jump, 400 and 1,600-meter relay.
The hurdles and long jump are part of her usual pentathlon regimen, along with the 800 meters, shotput and high jump. But Moore’s best this winter of 54.68 seconds in the 400 is the top mark in the Valley.
“The coaches feel like I can get more points and be more valuable in the individual events because I’ll be more rested,” Moore said.
On the men’s side, Jeramie Gray, who also plays wide receiver for the ISU football team, ranks among the top 30 in the nation in the 60 dash. Gray and teammate Daryl Truitt own the top two marks in the MVC in that event with respective times of 6.74 and 6.88.
Scott Keeney is a title contender in both the 3,000 and 5,000 meters, and Sean Wright and Logan Edwards should contend in the 400.
• ISU baseball faces tough task — Coach Lindsay Meggs takes the Sycamores to face No. 2 Ole Miss for a three-game series beginning today.
The Rebels moved from No. 4 to No. 2 in the latest poll by Baseball America.
All-American pitcher Lance Lynn, a 6-foot-5, 250-pound right-hander, started the season with 12 strikeouts in five innings of work in an 8-1 win against Minnesota. Lynn was named Pitcher of the Week by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.
ISU is coming off a 1-2 trip to Tampa, Fla., against South Florida, a team picked third in the Big East.
ISU also plays Arizona — the No. 2 ranked team in the Collegiate Baseball News poll — later in the year. Meggs is excited about the travel opportunities for more reasons than the tough competition for his team.
“Everywhere we go is going to be interesting for us in the nonconference. South Florida, Ole Miss, Arizona, Missouri, all of those programs are top 25 programs because of the facilities they have and the money they put into their programs,” Meggs said. “It’s an example of where we want to be. At some point, we want to be able to match them, not only in wins and losses, but with the emphasis we put on baseball.”
Ole Miss also features two other pitchers, Cody Satterwhite and Nathan Baker, that approach 100 mph on the radar guns.
Watch this weekend’s action live at www.olemisssports.com.
• Wood could return — Standout Indiana State pitcher Darcy Wood could return to the circle this weekend, coach Brenda Coldren said Thursday.
Wood hasn’t pitched in ISU’s five games this season due to shoulder soreness she began suffering from two weeks ago, said Coldren, who reported that Wood’s shoulder is improving after giving the coach quite a scare.
Wood averaged 7.5 strikeouts per nine innings for ISU last season and ranked second in the MVC in Ks with 266.
“We might be able to use her this weekend, we might be able to use her for three or four innings,” Coldren said. “She’s doing pretty good now.”
Northview graduate Stephanie Jonson was forced into some time on the mound during last weekend’s tournament. The freshman allowed 11 hits and 10 runs in 31/3 innings.
“I’d like to have some time for a freshman pitcher to mature,” Coldren said. “With injuries and other people breaking team policies, she got thrown into the fire too early.”
The Sycamores are back in action this weekend in the Tennesee-Martin tournament.
Craig Pearson can be reached by e-mail at
email@example.com or by phone at (812) 231-4357.