Riley Among Three headed to Nationals

By Gus Bode

Three Salukis are set to compete at the NCAA Championships in early March after strong performances over the weekend.

Senior Antwon Stapleton, junior Brittany Riley, and sophomore Bianca Stuart qualified for the national tournament at the MVC indoor track and field conference championships on Friday and Saturday hosted by SIU.

The SIU men’s team finished third, while the women finished fifth. The Saluki men racked up 62 points and the women got 55 points over the weekend. The big winners were the University of Northern Iowa, who set a new MVC men’s championship record by scoring 193 points, and Wichita State took home the women’s title with a score of 142 points, the fifth highest in the history of the MVC championship.

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“We’ve had a lot of good individual accomplishments today and yesterday,” head coach Connie Price-Smith said. “We had a lot of school records and a lot of personal bests.”

For the second straight year junior Brittany Riley was named Most Outstanding Field Athlete. Riley also won the weight toss on Saturday with a toss of 75 feet 10.25 inches, which set a new indoor track and field record.

Riley attributed the win to her confidence in her ability.

“When you’re nervous, you tend to mess things up,” Riley said. “When you’re more relaxed, that gives you a chance to focus on what you’re supposed to be doing.”

Sophomore Sasha Leeth finished third and freshman Jasmine Matthews finished sixth in the weight toss.

“I’m proud of what Sasha and Jasmine did,” Riley said. “They both went out and did PR today, I’m extremely proud of them.”

Leeth credited to Riley for helping her with her technique.

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“She’s a good example of how to throw, she’s really inspirational,” Leeth said. “When she gets out there everybody gets excited, just the whole atmosphere around really helps.”

Additional Salukis who performed well included sophomore Bianca Stuart who won the conference title in the long jump for the second year in a row, and junior Brenton Siemons who came in first in the weight throw. Stuart’s jump of 20 feet 8.5 inches was only a half an inch shy of an MVC record. Antwon Stapleton qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships by taking third in the triple jump.

Notable placements on Friday included freshman Trevor Poore’s second in the high jump and sophomore Trenton McKinney grabbed second place in the long jump.

On Saturday, Joe Mueller and Siemons’ placed first and second respectfully in the weight toss. Siemons, an all-conference performer, also won the weight toss with a throw of 56 feet 1.75 inches.

Coach Price-Smith said the team would build on this weekend’s tournament for future meets. Price-Smith noted that outdoor tracks are bigger and the players need adjust.

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