SIU looks for quick finish at Saluki Fast Start

By Gus Bode

The SIU track and field team is set to get a jumpstart on its season as it hosts the Saluki Fast Start meet as the inaugural event of 2011-12.

The meet welcomes both school teams and unattached athletes to participate in six field and 11 running events, and it is set to kickoff 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the Recreation Center. This is the first and final opportunity for the athletes to compete in an event before the holiday break, as they have a six-week separation between the Fast Start and the Saluki Open, the team’s first meet of 2012.

Rylie Bruce, an undecided freshman from Mount Vernon, practices high jump Thursday during practice at the Recreation Center. The SIU track and field team competes Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at the Saluki Fast Start meet in the Recreation Center. Sarah Gardner | Daily Egyptian


Throws coach John Smith said he expects the Fast Start to be an interesting meet for him and his athletes because of the loss of two All-Americans and the addition of 11 freshmen.

He said he has been busy working with throwers so they will be mentally and physically prepared, as it is the first collegiate competition for most the team.

“I lived on the throwing field basically,” Smith said. “Trying to get everyone doing as much as possible, as quickly as possible to get them ready. It’s a whole new team.”

He said the men’s team lacks an athlete who really sets himself from the rest of the pack, but he expects the throwers to be a well-rounded team, of whom all have the potential to put up scoring marks at every event.

“Everybody thinks I’m young and they’re going to beat up on me this year, but it probably won’t happen,” said Smith with a chuckle.

Smith said he is counting on sophomore thrower Brian Cooper, to have a successful year.

Cooper said his freshman season at SIU wasn’t what he hoped for, but the meets he competed in gave him the confidence he has now.


He said he was frequently nervous in the 2010-11 meets. He said he needs to remain more focused and settled his sophomore season, which starts with Saturday’s event.

“I feel like I’m a lot more ahead of the game, compared to last season and I know what to expect,” Cooper said. “I want to know this year that I can go into any meet and compete well. It’s kind of like a test run.”

The Fast Start isn’t a scored event, however, the marks achieved are still eligible for the NCAA.

Jumps coach Andre Scott said his athletes have been training hard during the fall, but it won’t be until the end of the meet before he can truly evaluate their status. He said he would consider it a successful meet if all of his jumpers qualified for finals.

“If you survive up to this point, you’re ready to jump,” Scott said. “They’re happy, they’re smiling, and that tells you they’re ready to compete.”