Three Salukis named MVC champions

The SIU track and field teams won four titles and placed 11th athletes on the All-Missouri Valley Conference team in the final indoor meet of the season.

The Salukis traveled to the University of Northern Iowa to compete in the indoor MVC meet the meet Saturday and Sunday. The  meet featured eight MVC schools with track and field programs. The men’s team tied UNI for third place and scored 121 team points. The women’s team placed sixth with 43.5 team points.

Senior Zach Dahleen led the Salukis with two titles in the meet’s track portion. Dahleen took the MVC championship with a time of 4:12.02 mile run, in his best event — the. His second win came in the 3000­-meter run where he ran a time of 8:20.38 to beat out runner-up Wichita State senior Tomas Cotter. Dahleen was named on the All-MVC team in both events, and he was named the MVC men’s meet’s most valuable athlete.

Coach Connie Price-Smith said weekly progression is part of the reason Saluki athletes competed well during the weekend.

“The team, especially Zach, has done progressively better throughout the year and will continue to improve,” she said. “To have Zach go out and run those races at such a high level is a testament to his competitive edge.”

Junior jumper Dougie Palacious won the triple jump title and led the meet’s field section. Dougie beat out runner-up Wichita State freshman Shazz Michael Lindo who leapt 15.08 meters. Palacious won the triple jump with a personal-best 15.15-meters final jump. to win his second-ever MVC championship and named on the All-MVC team.

Price-Smith said Dougie has made strides in his performance this year and has put in the effort to compete successfully.

“Every day Dougie is trying his best to improve and do his best,” she said. “When you have athletes like that who work hard at things that may or may not come easy to them, it makes our job that much easier.”

Senior Ryan Sidwell grabbed the night’s final title in the pole-vault competition. Sidwell, who is also a heptathlon athlete, won the event with a 5.01-meter final vault to add 10 points to the men’s team total. He also placed fourth in the 400-meter dash clocked at 48.42 seconds. Sidwell was another Saluki who was named to  the All-MVC team for his pole vault performance.

Sophomore thrower Bradley Sauer placed second in the weight toss, which is an event he has excelled in all year. Sauer had a 20.86-meter final throw and lost to Drake senior Isaac Twombly by  .05 meters. He also placed 10th in the men’s shot put with a 15.71-meter final throw.

In the men’s shot-put competition freshman Josh Freeman placed second with a throw of 17.16 meters in the men’s shot-put competition freshman and lost to Indiana State freshman Derek Bunch, who threw an 18.14-meter shot in the finals.

Senior Kim Fortney saw success in her throwing events. Fortney posted a 20.41 meter final hurl in the weight throw and lost to MVC champion Indiana State senior Felisha Johnson, who threw 22.56 meters in the finals, and runner-up Illinois State senior Brittany Smith, who tossed 20.93 meters. Fortney placed third in the shot put with a final measurement of 15.96 meters and lost to Smith and Johnson respectively. Smith and Johnson were both ranked in the nation’s top 10 for both competitions. Fortney was named to the All-MVC team for her third-place finish in both the weight-throw and shot-put events.

Although the throwers failed to grab their first title of the year, throws coach John Smith said he is still pleased with the athletes.

“When you are going up against elite competition it tends to make you compete better,” he said. “Kim was going against some of the country’s elite throwers and showed that she can throw with them. It’s always nice to get a title, but everyone threw well and I am proud of their effort.”

Price-Smith said the Salukis are looking forward to the outdoor season, which starts next month.

“We have new events and have to re-peak our athletes so that they are at top shape by the end of the year,” she said. “Our team is looking to improve for the outdoor season and should be ready come late march.”

The Salukis start their outdoor season March 23 when they travel to Tennessee and compete in the Vanderbilt Black and Gold meet.


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