Track ‘ Field Meets For Saluki Booster

By Gus Bode

After the SIU men’s basketball team’s disappointing drop from the national polls, Saluki fans are finally rooting on another national powerhouse.

The No. 20 Saluki track and field team will see its first action since Dec. 7 when it competes Friday and Saturday in the Saluki Booster Invitational at the Recreation Center.

The Salukis will be going up against Arkansas State, Memphis and Southeast Missouri State in the practice meet.


SIU coach Connie Price-Smith said the Salukis would approach the meet just like any other. She said she sees the meet as an event where younger talent can step up and everyone can compete at a high level.

“You still have to put people where they will be successful,” Price-Smith said.

Senior Brittany Riley and junior Bianca Stuart look to lead the Saluki squad with each getting off to strong starts during the Fast Start Invitational Dec. 7.

Stuart provisionally qualified for the NCAA championships in the long jump and Riley automatically qualified for the weight throw. Stuart’s jump measured 20 feet, 7 inches while Riley’s throw measured 79 feet, 6 inches.

Riley and Stuart’s strong performances led the Salukis to a No. 20 ranking in the U.S. Track and Field Cross Country Coaches Association preseason poll.

Riley, who won her first national championship in 2007, said she looks forward to the NCAA championships and the possibility of a second national title.

Having qualified already this season, Riley can focus on the meet as practice for the Missouri Valley Conference championships in March.


“I approach them all the same,” Riley said. “I just want to throw farther than the last one.”

Throws coach John Smith said he has a strong group of throwers with veteran leadership on the men’s squad and young talent on the women’s side.

“I have a really good crew of young kids this year,” Smith said. “We should be the most powerful throwing squad in the Valley, by far.”

Senior Brenton Siemons, a 2007 NCAA outdoor automatic qualifier in the shot put, will be seeing his first action of the 2008 season.

Siemons said he has no specific goals or throwing distances in mind, but would like to get some practice in.

“I want to get in and set a good pace for the rest of the year,” Siemons said. “It’s been a long time since we’ve competed.”

Luis C. Medina can be reached at 453-3311 ext. 238 or at [email protected].