The track and field team began its 2012-13 season with a successful outing Saturday at the Saluki Fast Start.
The Salukis won nine individual titles and as a team, SIU was the highest finishing school in five other events.
Junior Douglas Palacious and senior Eric Reeves won the triple and long jumps respectively. Junior Kenya Culmer, who holds the school’s in-door high jump record, won the event for the women’s team to round out a solid performance for its jumping section.
Palacious said the consistency of his training regime has helped his performance.
“Every season I work hard,” he said. “There are always a lot of weights, running and body building. I just always try to have fun with it, even though it is most of the same things.”
Coming off a season where he won an honorable All-American mention in the triple jump, Palacious said his team role has changed, but his goals for it remain the same.
“I’m a junior on the team now, so I am more a leader,” he said. “This year, I want us to win conference, of course, but we are also looking to get some victories at nationals.”
The Saluki sprinters also fared well at the meet, which was held in the Recreation Center. Sophomore Amiris Warren won both the women’s 60- and 200-meter dashes. Warren’s time in the 60 (7.57 seconds) was her second best time in her collegiate career.
Junior Matthew Benes also won the men’s 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.26 seconds.
The throwers on the SIU team won both the women’s and men’s events in the shot put and weight throw. Sophomore Bradley Sauer won the men’s weight throw event for the Salukis. Sauer said he was pleased with his performance, but he is aware of the gravity of the event.
“This meet is just a small one,” he said. “We’re getting ready for the tough competitions that are ahead. With this being the first meet though, I am satisfied.”
Sophomore Ashley Gaston finished fourth in the women’s weight throw after recovering from a shoulder injury last season. Gaston said she hasn’t fully healed, but she expects to be a part of the team’s success this year.
“I’ve only been practicing for about two weeks,” she said. “I’m not yet back to last season’s form, but I’m not too far behind schedule. The team is preparing to win conference this year, and I want to pull my weight.”
The track and field team will compete again Jan. 11 at the Saluki Open in Carbondale.