Track displays mid-season form at Saluki Open

The Saluki track team nabbed seven event wins in front of its home crowd to conclude the beginning of the 2013 indoor track season Saturday at the Saluki Open.

Junior Dougie Palacious notched a triple jump title and posted a 14.99m mark, which is just one of four first-place finishes for the Salukis.

The men also finished first in the 60m hurdles, mile run and 3000m run.

Senior Tess Shubert won the 400m race at 56.78 seconds. The women also captured titles in the high jump, 400m and 800m races.

Sophomore Oscar Medina placed fourth in the men’s mile, which is a personal best. Medina said it was a solid start to the season.

“I was pretty happy that I finished this strong and still felt like I had a little bit more,” he said.

He said the team will become stronger and faster as the season progresses and the team uses the first couple of meets to get back in the swing of things.

“You always need that first race just to get your legs going and get your mind set to race mode,” he said.

Senior distance runner Zach Dahleen, center, closes the gap with Kevin McNab, left, an unaffiliated runner, while keeping Belmont University’s Erick Kigen behind him Saturday during the Saluki Open at the Recreation Center. Dahleen went on to finish in 4 minutes and 09.21 seconds, which was more than four seconds ahead of McNab and more than seven ahead of Kigen. Dahleen claimed one of eight titles for the Salukis during the Friday and Saturday events.Tiffany Blanchette-Daily Egyptian

Senior distance runner Zach Dahleen, center, closes the gap with Kevin McNab, left, an unaffiliated runner, while keeping Belmont University’s Erick Kigen behind him Saturday in the men’s mile event during the Saluki Open at the Recreation Center. Dahleen went on to finish in 4 minutes and 09.21 seconds, which was more than four seconds ahead of McNab and more than seven ahead of Kigen. Dahleen claimed one of eight titles for the Salukis during the Friday and Saturday events. —Tiffany Blanchette | Daily Egyptian

Sophomore Mobola Rotibi placed first in the women’s 800m at 2:18.67.

Rotibi finished her freshman year strong when she ended the outdoor season with a 2:11 time. After a year though, she said the season is much different.

“Last year it was a lot easier because I didn’t have much expected of me. It was like just run as fast as you can,” Rotibi said. “This year, there is a lot more expectation.”

Coach Connie Price-Smith said she loves the way the team performed after a break from competition.

“We’re starting off really well,” she said. “We had a good meet in December, and we come back after a break and so far today has been pretty good as well.”

Price-Smith said the team is young but filled with athletes who will compete hard and finish strong.

“We have a lot of sophomores and juniors, but I think we have a really strong team,” she said. “We lost a few people from last year, but the ones that are coming back are going to do really well and we are going to have a lot of NCAA qualifiers.”

The Salukis will continue its indoor season Jan. 19 in Champaign at the Illini Classic.

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