Salukis sprint into season’s biggest meet

By Gus Bode

Ukabam to face former Ohio State teammates

Slug:men’s and women’s track and field

After the SIU men’s and women’s track teams swept last weekend’s McDonalds Invitational, each will head to Ames, Iowa, to compete in the Iowa State Classic this weekend.

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With 30 schools being represented, this will be the largest meet of the season for the Salukis.

“We get to compete against other schools in the country that we don’t usually see a lot of,” head coach Connie Price-Smith said.

Many conferences will be flexing their muscles this weekend, including the Big 10, Big 12 and the SEC. However, the Missouri Valley Conference has shown that it can compete with the big names, with six weight-throwers from the Valley throwing over 60 feet, whereas the SEC has only two throwers tossing over the 60-foot mark.

Leading the Valley is SIU junior thrower Amarachi Ukabam, who is currently ranked fourth in the nation. Ukabam is very excited to be competing in a meet of this caliber.

“It’s our first big, big meet and we’re excited to show everyone what we can do,” Ukabam said.

In the previous meets, Ukabam has won both the weight throw and shot put with ease. But this weekend, she will encounter some stiff competition that could give her a run for her money.

“The meets that we were at, she has been able to win pretty easily, but this one, she’s going to have to work at it,” Price-Smith said.

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One of the competitors looking to show up Ukabam is former Ohio State teammate Shelaine Larson. Larson is currently ranked fourteenth in the nation and climbing. Ukabam is looking forward to seeing Larson and the rest of her former Ohio State teammates, saying that there is “Nothing but love,” between them.

High jumper Freddy Rule will lead the Salukis into the field events after winning three out of the four meets this season, displaying the consistency that jumps coach Andre Scott would like to continue to see from the senior.

“As long as Freddy stays consistent, he’ll do good,” Scott said. “I’m just looking for him to go out and compete.”

Along with Rule, Scott looks for triple jumpers Kenan Shadd and Antwon Stapleton to post some high marks. Also looking to improve on his second-place long jump performance in last weekend’s meet is newcomer Brent Little.

“Brent’s a tough competitor, he just loves to go out there and compete.” Scott said.

In the running events, Price-Smith expects many strong performances, including from seniors Emmanuel Daux in the hurdles, Felix Anderson in the 200m and 400m, and the distance team. She also believes with the competition this weekend the women’s 4×400 team will be able to run an NCAA Championship provisional time.

“If they all go out and do what they are capable of,” Price-Smith said, “they will all fare well.”

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