National hopes fall just short for some

By Gus Bode

Watching her teammates leave for national competition Monday will just make freshman Jeneva McCall hungry for next year.

The freshman thrower came inches short of joining two of her throwing teammates at the NCAA Track and Field National Championships in Arkansas, but said she’ll use the first-year faux pas to her advantage.

‘I try to beat them every day, and me and (qualifier) Gwen (Berry) always go at it in practice anyway. So next year, I’m going to be on top,’ she said with a smile after qualifiers were announced Tuesday.


McCall was one of four Salukis who came painfully short of qualifying, joining junior Kendra Deck and sophomores Megan Hoelscher and Meredith Hayes.

Hayes missed the cut in 100-meter hurdles, Hoelscher fell just short in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and Deck failed to move on in the 400-meter hurdles.

Coach Connie Price-Smith said many of the team’s athletes have felt the pain of coming up just short and have rebounded the next year to make the trip to nationals.

One such athlete was Sasha Leeth, who will make the trip this year in the hammer throw. Price-Smith said she saw Leeth’s motivation increase when she came up short last season.

‘Her dedication and focus I think this year has been a lot better, and obviously it’s proven to be a good thing,’ Price-Smith said.

McCall said she is rooting for teammates Leeth and Berry in nationals, but will also be ready to compete against them next season. She said the group has a friendly competitive relationship in almost everything, including her and Berry rooting for opposite teams in the NBA playoffs.

‘In (the hammer throw) I want to improve and be up there with them. I’m somewhere around them, but it’s not consistent. I really don’t know what I’m doing just yet,’ she said.


Price-Smith said all of the athletes who fell short of qualifying would likely use the experience as extra motivation for next season.

‘All of them are relatively young,’ she said. ‘The more they do it the better they’ll get at it. The bigger the competitions they get to compete in the more familiar they’ll be when they get into situations like (regionals).’