Saluki throwers earn All-American honors in NCAA indoor championships

Senior thrower Shauneice O’Neal and senior thrower A’veun Moore-Jones have been added to the long list of the Saluki track and field throwers who made it to the All- American team at the NCAA Indoor Championships.

“They were excited when they became first team All-American and second team All-American. Throwers have had a long history of producing All-Americans, so it is nice to keep the tradition alive,” coach J.C. Lambert said.

SIU thrower A’veun Moore-Jones poses with a shot put on Tuesday, April 6, 2021 at Lew Hartzog Track & Field Complex at SIU. Moore-Jones was named All-MVC for a second time in her career and went on to take home first place in shot put at Missouri Valley Conference championship. After finishing 14th place in shot put at the NCAA Indoor Championships, she was named to the 2021 Second Team All-American status. (Jared Treece | @bisalo)

This was O’Neal’s first time making it to first team All-American in her college career, earning seventh place at the championship with the weight throw of 21.77 meters.

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“I was happy. I was a little disappointed that I didn’t go further, but overall I was happy. I actually got to go and compete and just competing in general made me happy. To be able to know that I can go toe-to-toe with a bunch of great competitors solidified that my hard work paid off,” O’Neal said.

Moore-Jones placed 14th at the indoor championships, earning second team All-American for the first time with the shot put throw of 15.99 meters.  

“Personally, being All-American just takes the cake for me. It is one of the top things you can get being a D1 athlete, so I was just really happy and I was also happy because I had my teammate with me as well,” Moore-Jones said.

Lambert said it has been great having Moore-Jones and O’Neal on the team and they both have great attitudes.

“They’ve improved quite a bit and in more than one way. Athletically they’ve improved a lot, they have grown up a lot as individuals. They’ve done a great job in maturing in many different ways,” Lambert said.

Both O’Neal and Moore-Jones have been participating in track and field since high school and they have been working on making it to nationals since arriving at SIU.

“They have set goals for this season. A’veun wanted to make it to nationals and she did. […] For Shauniece, her goal was to be first team All-American, which is basically top eight at the NCAA national meet and she did,” Lambert said. 

In preparation for the indoor championship, Moore-Jones said she did a lot of repetition in practice to work on her technique.

“Getting a lot of good solid throws in and trying to repeat your good throws over and over. Trying to make your bad practices into good ones and when you are tired and you don’t have any energy left, all you have is your technique,” Moore-Jones said. 

O’Neal said repetition had also played a big part in her preparation for the championship and they began preparing at the beginning of the season to make it to nationals.

Moore-Jones and O’Neal both said Lambert has helped them improve in the areas they need work in.

“In particular, coach Lambert really worked with me on my form and I have never really had a problem with the mental aspect of throwing, but being consistent with my technique and conditioning, he’s really helped me work on that,” O’Neal said.

“I have so many mental issues going into competitions, like I know I can throw whatever number but if my head is not there I’m not going to do it. […] He helped me a lot with mental things and mental reps,” Moore-Jones said.

Lambert said both women have great attitudes and they work hard. He said Moore-Jones is consistent at practice and O’Neal is a good competitor when it comes down to the wire and she is good at holding herself accountable.

The outdoor season began on March 19 with the Bill Cornell Invite and Lambert said they are trying to get used to the differences between indoor and outdoor seasons.

“We are really just trying to get used to getting back outside again. We throw on different surfaces, indoor we throw on plywood and outdoors we try on concrete and of course discus is added in,” Lambert said.

O’Neal and Moore-Jones said outdoor throwing is more exhausting than indoor throwing.

“Outdoor is exhausting. For some reason, transferring from indoor to outdoor is like dragging a wagon full of cinder blocks. It is just a little more exhausting and you have to put in a little more effort,” O’Neal said.

Moore-Jones and O’Neal both hope to make it to nationals for this outdoor season.

“Some of my goals are to finish my semester strong for classes and try to do my best at conference, try to win at least the hammer and to score in whatever events he puts me in and try to make it to regionals and nationals for hammer,” O’Neal said.

Lambert said his goal for O’Neal is to keep making it to national meets and to keep climbing up the ladder and his goal for Moore-Jones is to continue to get better and get back to the national meet.

“Finishing strong in all my classes, winning conference in shot put and scoring in discus because I know I can and actually be able to go to nationals this outdoor season, I always make it to regionals. I have never made it to nationals in outdoor so that is definitely a goal for me to reach,” Moore-Jones said.

Staff reporter Janae Mosby can be reached at jmosby@dailyegyptian.com or on Twitter at @mosbyj.

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