No rest for track and field

By Gus Bode

As the indoor season ended, the SIU track and field team didn’t have much time to rest up for the outdoor season, which begins Friday.

But the lack of rest shouldn’t bother the Salukis because they carry plenty of momentum into the spring season. Junior thrower Brittany Riley capped off her record-setting season with a weight throw national title at the 2007 NCAA Indoor Championships March 10.

SIU coach Connie Price-Smith said she was proud of the duo’s performance at nationals, but the team is looking to improve on a solid indoor season.


“Everyone looks forward to coming outdoors because we have more room to work with and there are more events,” Price-Smith said. “We will be much stronger outdoors than we were indoors.”

Price-Smith recently earned an honor of her own, being named throws coach for the 2008 U.S. Olympic track and field team in addition to coaching Team USA at the Pan American Games, starting July 13 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The 2008 Summer Olympics will be held in Beijing, and Price-Smith said Riley still has some work to do before she can join her coach in China for the Olympics.

In the meantime, Riley will shift her focus to the hammer throw for the outdoor season.

Riley, SIU’s first indoor women’s national champion, threw for 25.6 meters – more than 10 feet in front of the runner-up.

The throw surpassed her previous world record of 24.57 meters, but will not count in the record books because the International Association of Athletics Federations does not recognize weight throw records.

The three-time All-American finished fourth in the hammer throw at the 2006 NCAA Outdoor Championships and will also compete in the shot put and discus throws.


On the other hand, sophomore long jump competitor Bianca Stuart said she was not pleased with her results in the long jump at nationals.

The Nassau, Bahamas native finished 14th in her first NCAA Indoor Championship with a distance of 5.96 meters after winning the 2007 Missouri Valley Conference Indoor long jump Feb. 24 with a jump of 6.31 meters.

“I have no excuse for my performance but I wasn’t nervous or anything,” Stuart said. “I was consistent with jumping over 20 feet during the season but it just wasn’t there for me at nationals.”

Stuart said she shouldn’t have to change much heading into the outdoor season because her outdoor event is similar in style to the indoor version.

Riley’s male counterpart, junior thrower Joe Mueller, said he should be more in his element during the outdoor season.

Mueller won the MVC weight throw title and was named to the All-Conference team with Riley and Stuart.

“Going from weight throw to hammer is a very big difference because the weight is a lot faster so it’s an adjustment,” Mueller said. “I’ll throw discus outside but my primary focus is to improve my performance in the hammer throw.”