Saluki Fast Start brings national win

By Gus Bode

Personal bests and first-place finishes were common throughout the Saluki Fast Start, as the combination resulted in the nation’s top collegiate mark of the season.

The Salukis opened the season Saturday with 11 event titles, two NCAA qualifying marks for the indoor championships and a No. 1 mark in the nation in the women’s weight throw by senior thrower Jeneva McCall.

Coach Connie Price-Smith said the Fast Start carries more weight than some people may realize.


Freshman thrower Deanna Price competes in the weight throw Saturday during the Saluki Fast Start meet at the Recreation Center. Saluki throwers won both men and women’s shot put and women’s weight throw. The SIU track and field team compete next at the Saluki Open Jan. 13-14 at the Recreation Center. – Sarah Gardner | Daily Egyptian

“I personally like to see some people get in and get qualified right off the bat,” Price-Smith said. “If you can do that at this meet, then it’s going to take a lot of pressure off of you when we start going to the bigger meets.”

She said the meet was an overall success not only for McCall but the entire team. Price-Smith said this type of event gives her an opportunity to gauge the progress the athletes have during the fall, while also considering the areas in need of improvement.

She said a meet this early in the season also gives the athletes a fresh evaluation, while adding tangibility to the progress thus far, particularly for some of her less-experienced athletes.

“The better you can compete now, the more comfortable you are,” Price-Smith said. “I think it was really good for some of the freshmen because I think they competed really well, so it will give them a little confidence coming into some of the harder stuff when we come back in January.”

Though tighter competition will come later in the season, the Salukis dominated the field events. The men placed in seven of the top eight in the weight throw, took the three top spots in the shot put and four of the top five spots in the pole vault, including senior Cody Doerflein’s top mark of 5.08 meters.

The women also displayed their presence as they claimed the top seven spots in the shot put and the top five in the weight throw.


McCall, who had the top mark in both the weight throw with a nation’s-best distance of 23.02 meters and the shot put with a 17.38 meter throw, said the Fast Start ended with mixed emotions for her.

She said it was comforting for her to know that her extensive training is worth the time and effort, but a lingering leg injury become a concern.

Her top national mark came in her first throw of the meet; however, her leg limited her progression for the remainder of the event.

“Today, in my mind, was a tragedy because I couldn’t finish my last throw,” McCall said. “As far as how I threw, or how far I threw, I’m excited. I’m pleased with it because I’m better than where I was at my best last year.”

In addition to the field events, SIU had success in the running events.

The Salukis had four top-10 finishes in the women’s one-mile run, with freshman Allison Gallo and freshman Mobola Rotibi taking the first two spots. Gallo finished with a time of 5:12.91, nearly 17 seconds ahead of Rotibi.

The men had runners in the top-four of the 60-meter dash, and had three in the top-five of the 200-meter dash, with senior Brandon Deloney and freshman Eric Reeves leading the way with the first- and second-place finishes.

Senior and multi-event athlete Malaikah Love also had a big day as she won both the women’s long jump and triple jump, and placed second in the 60-meter hurdles.

“Usually this first meet tells you a lot about conditioning, how it’s been going, how your body has been taking it,” Love said. “It’s a good thing to open up as well as I did.”