Special Mothers Day: Martin's Sycamores make Sunday memorable by sweeping both outdoor track titles at home

May 12—No offense to the NFL's annual biggest game of the year, but "Super Sunday" would be an accurate description for what just transpired in Indiana State athletics.

Minutes after ISU's baseball team clinched the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season championship outright — albeit by second-place UIC losing to Illinois State on Sunday — coach Angie Martin's Sycamores claimed the men's and women's team titles in the MVC outdoor track and field championships at the Gibson Complex.

Happy graduation weekend, Indiana State seniors, and happy Mothers Day to Martin, a mommy to three children.

Saige, her youngest at 3, could have won a medal for loudest screams during a post-meet celebration, if such a medal existed (insert "wink" symbol here).

Here's another serious reason why this was a memorable weekend for Indiana State: For the first time ever, the Sycamores swept the men's and women's indoor and outdoor track championships in the same year. They got out the brooms Feb. 25-26 in Chicago to earn the indoor crowns.

Annnnnnnd, this was the third year in a row that the Indiana State men have captured the outdoor team title. On the other hand, no Sycamore women's track squad had finished first outdoors since 2013.

How did it all come together?

Largely because Indiana State benefited from 12 event champions during the three-day meet, half of which came during a dominant Sunday performance. Elias Foor was named the MVC Most Valuable Men's Track and Field Athlete of the championships following three all-conference performances and scoring in all four throws events, while Jake Ottersbach was named the MVC Men's Track and Field Freshman of the Year after winning the decathlon.

"It's a wonderful Mothers Day," Martin told the Tribune-Star after a variety of photos had been taken by team members to celebrate the momentous occasion. "I'm very thankful for all my 'other children.' ... We had an awesome three days."

She was referring to her athletes — including pole-vaulter Will Staggs, who got the men off to a great start Friday by winning the pole vault for the fifth time out of six MVC competitions, along with Saturday winners Kevin Krutsch (men's high jump), Ali Ilupeju (men's long jump), Ottersbach (men's decathlon), Kyrsten Fehribach (women's high jump) and Claire Pittman (women's long jump) — who gave the Sycamores enough cushion to let Sunday's finalists do their thing in a relaxed manner.

Take freshman Rachel Mehringer, for example. She was expected to win the women's 100-meter hurdles and she did in 13.47 seconds.

"It was a very smooth race," she assessed. "I was able to get out really strong and powerful on my blocks. I was able to make my mark as soon as the first hurdle. I was able to keep the lead and it was just a smooth race. I mean, I didn't hit any hurdles. So it was a good race."

When told about the program's history-making double-double in the same year, Mehringer praised her teammates.

"It's been amazing," she emphasized. "Everybody's worked so hard all season ... and everybody's hard work is really paying off."

Mehringer also appreciates how supportive teammates with vastly different specialties — from big, strong weight throwers to slimmer long-distance runners and everybody in between — are with each other, which is one reason she doesn't plan on entering the transfer portal during the next 3 1/2 years.

"I have gotten really lucky with Coach Angie and I love her as my coach," Mehringer explained. "I couldn't have asked for a better coach."

Then there's Foor, a senior who's been battling a wrist injury for a while but still managed to score in four throwing events and even won the discus Sunday.

"Discus went well," he said after he was done. "Just went through some technical changes throughout the year. I'm happy with that. Coach B [assistant Brandan Bettenhausen] has been really working with me hard. He's been the best coach I've ever had.

"I'm thankful to be here. [Weather] conditions were good, so I got some good tosses out there."

Like Mehringer, Foor was ecstatic to know he was part of ISU history.

"That's cool [to sweep the conference twice in the same year]," he said. "We work really hard throughout the year. We build each other up a lot and we hold each other to a high standard. So for us both [men and women] to come out here and win it indoors and outdoors, that's a very cool thing to be a part of."

Martin could have thanked every member of the team if the Tribune-Star had given her the time to do so. So she summed up her feelings about a day that her mentor, the late John McNichols, would have been so proud to see.

"We have an awesome group of kids," she pointed out. "They work hard. We have good leadership and they're proud to be part of the Indiana State community, so we're blessed."

Martin said approximately 15 of her athletes, give or take a few, will advance to the NCAA East Regional on May 22-25 at Lexington, Ky.

Meanwhile, the question that's probably on everyone's mind: Did Angie Martin get to enjoy a traditional Mothers Day meal with her family?

Well, not yet. But she's not complaining.

"We were here [at the track complex] at 8:30 a.m. and my mom [Elaine Bruecker] came down from Wisconsin, so that was nice," Martin said. "She came down to kinda help with the kids while we [she and her husband/associate head coach Jeff Martin] worked all week. She's been a wonderful help."