Saluki track and field get ready for Jesse Owens Classic

By Gus Bode

With 19 regional qualifies going into the final regular season meet, the SIU track and field team is looking to make it 20.

The Salukis travel today to Ohio State for the Jesse Owens Classic, the team’s final meet before the Missouri Valley Conference Championships.

Freshman thrower Jeneva McCall, one of the Salukis who have already qualified for NCAA regionals, looks to build upon marks that helped her earn the MVC Women’s Field Athlete of the Week.


McCall picked up a meet title, an NCAA regional qualifying mark in the hammer throw and three top-five finishes in the last meet at SIU-Edwardsville.

McCall is also the league leader in discuss, with a throw of 56.71 meters.

Head coach Connie Price-Smith said McCall’s progression was a work in progress.

‘Every meet kind of builds on top of itself,’ Price-Smith said. ‘They take what they did at the meet and try to find a way to improve on it in practice.’

Price-Smith said she was impressed with the throwers, who are setting themselves up to do well in conference as a result of their hard work in practice.

Throwing coach John Smith said he encourages the team to throw harder and heavier than most other teams do.

‘What I do for training, other people think is crazy,’ Smith said. ‘People say our girls look so strong. In practice, they throw the same thing the men use in competition.’


Smith said he often sees a 10 percent improvement from the beginning of each week to the end of it in practice.

That 10 percent difference helped net the throwers three meet titles at SIUE. One of those titles came from senior Sasha Leeth, who won her third title of the season.

Even with Leeth’s late success, Smith said that additional challenges come with throwing late in the year. At this point in the season, throwers tend to get tired and the distances they throw get shorter.

‘It’s just important that they go out there and throw as hard as they can,’ Smith said.

Junior Thomas Smith did just that at the SIUE Twilight meet when he set a regional qualifying mark in shot put with a throw of 16.82 meters, which was good enough for a victory.

John Smith said he hopes Thomas Smith is not the team’s last qualifier.

‘We have four people left to qualify,’ John Smith said. ‘If we can do that, this will be the biggest squad I have ever taken to regionals.’