The Salukis finished their final season preparations and hosted the Saluki Open Friday and Saturday, Jan. 11-12.
Of the competition’s 10 schools, it was the Saluki throwers who stood out the most, as they placed no worse than third in any of their four events.
Sophomore thrower Bradley Sauer notched 20.31m on his final throw in the weight event, which placed him first among the Saluki throwers. The toss topped a new personal best Sauer set just a month ago in the Saluki Fast Start.
It was a battle of current and former Saluki throwers on the women’s side as sophomores DeAnna Price, sophomore Sophia Lozano and senior Kim Fortney met strong competition from former Saluki greats Gwen Berry and Jeneva McCall.
McCall and Berry took the top two spots in the women’s weight throw, as they edged out this year’s Salukis by more than three meters. Lozano, Price and Fortney banked throws over 19 meters in the event.
“I lost Brittany Riley and then Gwen came along and now I lost Jeneva,” Coach John Smith said. “It’s probably going to be Deanna, Sophie and Big Red (Bradley Sauer) to come along and fill in that spot. I don’t know who the next superstar is going to be, but it’s looking good right now.”
The team will have big shoes to fill because Riley set the world record in weight throw. Berry and McCall also placed in the top two spots in each event they competed in and continued their high play in the shot put events.
Four Salukis placed in the top five and Fortney led the Salukis with a 16.15m toss.
“I think it’s going to be a great performance that we are going to have,” Price said. “Kim Fortney, Sophia Lozano, and me, we are all neck and neck in our marks and I’m just hoping that we are going to make those top three places next week.”
Freshman thrower Josh Freeman helped to continue the Salukis’ shot put success as he led the team with his 17.21-meter throw. Sophomore thrower Curtis Wideman was a close second with an even 17 -meter throw.
Junior Kenya Culmer took the top spot in the women’s high jump and senior high jumper Ryan Sidwell took third in his competition.
Sophmores Alex Lietz and John Baughman took the top two spots in the men’s pole vault with Lietz setting a personal best, but it was former Indiana State vaulter Kylie Hutson who stole the moment. With a 4.35-meter vault, the ex-Sycamore set a Recreation Center event.
“She’s a really good competitor,” head coach Connie Price-Smith said. “We had to compete against her for a long time when she was at Indiana State, so having her come over here and competing and seeing that level of athlete is really nice for our kids. The competition and numbers are important, and the more competition that we have here the better our kids can get because they see that they can accomplish these things too.”
The Saluki track and field team will compete again Saturday in Champaign at the Illini Classic.