Track and field seeks improvement at Illinois

By Gus Bode

It will be a battle for the title of best in Illinois when the SIU track and field team competes this weekend.

The Salukis will head to Urbana-Champaign Saturday at the Carle/Health Alliance Classic at the University of Illinois where they will face off against five Illinois-based universities.

The Salukis look to improve on their strong showing at last weekend’s Saluki Booster Invitational. Head coach Connie Price-Smith said she was pleased with SIU’s first performance of the season.

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“Looking back, I think we had a really good meet,” Price-Smith said. “It was a good start for us.”

SIU’s throwers were successful at the unscored meet. The men’s team was led by a strong showing from Brenton Siemons, who won the shotput and weight throw at the Saluki Booster. On the women’s side, the Salukis had three top-5 finishers in the weight throw including Brittany Riley, Rickael Roach and Olga Ciura.

Riley and Siemons were both awarded this week’s Missouri Valley Conference Athlete-of-the-Week. Riley won the women’s weight throw and Siemons posted first-place finishes in the men’s weight throw and shotput events.

Throws coach John Smith said he was happy with how his throwers performed.

“People competed better than I expected,” Smith said. “The goal for each meet is to perform better and throw farther.”

Senior Joe Mueller and sophomore Thomas Smith joined Siemons with top-5 finishes in both the weight toss and shotput.

Smith said he wanted his team focused and keeping an eye on the conference standings to see where each individual stacked up against the competition.

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“If they’re not in contention to score, they’re not getting on the bus to go to Northern Iowa,” Smith said. “That’s their motivation.”

At the meet, the Salukis will compete against several teams including DePaul, Eastern Illinois, Illinois, Illinois State, and Northern Illinois. Price-Smith said she expects a competitive meet Saturday.

Illinois’ women’s team ranks No. 25 in the nation and will provide the Salukis with quality competition at the meet. The Fighting Illini competed against No. 11 Texas and No. 14 UCLA Jan. 19.

“I think it will be a good, competitive meet,” Price-Smith said. “I think they’re ready to see some good competition.”

Luis C. Medina can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 238 or at [email protected]

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