Salukis claim five firsts at Arkansas State Invite

By Gus Bode

SIU women’s track and field team net three firsts, while men tally three

There was a chance the SIU men’s and women’s track and field could have gotten lost in the shuffle. It would have been easy and acceptable not to bring home any medals with nearly 20 teams vying for the same honors at the Arkansas Invite.

But the Salukis drove back from Jonesboro, Ark., with something to brag about.

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The women’s squad tallied three first-place medals while the men brought home three firsts from the non-scored invite, which included such teams as Southeast Missouri State, Memphis and Mississippi State.

“It was solid competition in every single event,” said men’s head coach Cameron Wright. “They didn’t score the meet, unfortunately, which I would have like to see them do.

“[The invite] was our best competition we have faced by far.”

In the women’s meet, sprinter Korto Dunbar continued her dominance this season by taking first in the 55-meter dash, crossing the tape in 8.12 seconds. Senior Marian Appiah-Kubi won the 400-meter dash with a time of 57.36 seconds, while sophomore Inna Turevsky recorded a personal best in triple jump with her first-place bound of 40-0.

Even though the Salukis do not have a large number of sprinters, the ones they do have are running superb races.

“We don’t have too many [sprinters], but the ones we have are getting it done,” said shot putter Danielle Lawary, who battled a bad knee to place second at the invite.

“And there is more to come.”

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And to place three at the invite could signify a strong season from the women.

“We did great,” Lawary said. “We got a lot of young people and a lot of people to get into the swing of things. It is just beginning.”

The first-place finishes for the men came from senior Paul Whitaker’s 6-10 high jump and the 3000-meter run where Doron Giat finished ahead of the pack with a finish of 8:32.50.

“It went well,” Wright said. “I think we had bright spots. Paul Whitaker tied his personal best. The track was a little bit rough. It was a little different than what we are used to.”

In track, however, the results are not the end-all. Coaches and players look at peaking at the end of the season, rather than dominating in the beginning.

Lawary, who won the shot put at the Missouri Valley Conference Indoor Championships last year, says she is on track to be throwing at her peak, which she believes is in the neighborhood of 55 feet.

She said women’s head coach Connie Price-Smith trains the players so that they are not burned out leading to the final meets of the season.

Wright uses the same plan and thinks meets like the Arkansas Invite are great preparation.

“I’ve got high expectations for every single person on our team, so they are not where they should be,” Wright said. “What I pointed out to our team with every single practice and event, this team has to get a better.

“I thought it was a step in the right direction.”

Reporter Zack Creglow can be reached at [email protected]

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