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SIU track and field preparing for post season
May 4, 2023
Finishing up their regular season outdoor meets on April 29, Southern Illinois track and field athletes Xavier Preston and Iaunia Pointer are beginning their preparation for a successful postseason.
Coming into his freshman season at Southern, Preston did not expect to accomplish everything he has so far this year.
After taking home the newcomer of the year award at the annual Dawgspys, SIU athletic’s very own awards show, adding his name to the SIU track and field record book and finishing the season with multiple first place finishes, he went to end the regular season with a first place finish in the Penn Relays, where his 4x400m relay team took first with a time of 3:09.17.
“It feels amazing,” Preston said.
He followed with, “you know, coming in your first year and having an impact on the program, you don’t really expect that as a freshman. It means a lot because moving away from home my family’s not here to be supportive, so showing that I can go on my own and accomplish these things has shown me that if I just put my mind to anything that I can do anything.”
Pointer, a junior on the team, has also made her way into the record book, as well as tallying up some first place finishes this season, adding her final of the regular season at the Penn Relays this past weekend in her 4x400m relay with a time of 3:38.38. She was named the Missouri Valley Conference athlete of the week, not once, but twice. Once was back in late March and the other was most recently on the 20th of April for her own SIU record in the 100m dash.
“It feels good. I’m glad my hard work isn’t going unnoticed. To me, it’s great because it makes me realize that my coach is doing good and leading me in the right direction,” Pointer said.
Both athletes are looking forward to the Missouri Valley Conference tournament to mark the end of their 2022 outdoor season and showcase what they have been working towards all season.
Currently, Pointer is sitting at seventh place in the SIU record book for the 400m dash with a time of 53.89. Preston is also sitting at seventh place for the 100m dash with a time of 10.42. Both of these athletes are looking to improve on these times when it comes to post season play.
“I feel that I am continuously lowering times and raising my rankings, so I do hope to raise my ranking from seventh place before my career here at SIU is finished,” Pointer said.
In preparation for the tournament, both athletes said that they are focused on the finer details.
“I’m focused on improving small technique things like block work and driving,” Pointer said.
Preston followed with, “I’m working on my form, just to be better at executing my race plan and not being so hard on myself about past races and focusing on what’s left ahead of me.”
Preston said one of the biggest things he has struggled with towards the end of this season is his mentality and managing his homework while traveling this close to the end of the semester.
“Being a student athlete you have class and other things to worry about. There’s a lot I need to work on, but just taking some time away from everything just to get my mind right on the meet. Physically, our coach is going to push us to make sure our bodies are well conditioned to run out best and win the races we are put in,” Preston said.
This is the first outdoor postseason meet that Preston will prepare for in his collegiate career.
“I think the training is definitely going to be harder than what it was before,” Preston said.
Pointer’s preparation for the tournament looks a little different than Preston’s. Being a junior, this is not her first postseason.
“Getting ready for the MVC Championship will look like a lot of technical work, handoffs, ice baths and really taking care of my body,” she said.
Approaching big events like this can be intimidating, even for veteran athletes, so maintaining a good mentality when stepping on the track is very important.
“Before I run, I always tell myself “respect all, fear none” meaning I deserved to be there just as much as everyone else in the competition. It helps me to not think myself out of a race before it even begins,” she said.
Preston’s mentality when stepping on to the track is pretty similar to Pointer’s.
“Just go out there and run my best because no matter what there’s always going to be someone faster than you whether they’re at the meet, in your heat, or somewhere across the world. So I just focus on my race and controlling what I can control,” Preston said.
Southern Illinois track and field will travel to Normal, Illinois on Friday May 12 for the Missouri Valley Conference Championships. With a successful regular outdoor season, the Salukis have a good outlook on the tournament and will spend the time they have from now until then to improve on their techniques and the small parts of their races to bring home a few more firsts to end the season.
Sports reporter Joei Younker can be reached at [email protected].
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