Daily Egyptian

SIU track and field faces old friends in Kentucky

By Brent Meske, @brentmeskeDE

The Kentucky Invitational was more than just another meet for the SIU track and field team.

Since the offseason exodus of the majority of the previous coaching staff, SIU and and the University of Mississippi squared off for the first time. The Connie Price-Smith-led Rebels and Kathleen Raske-led Salukis each finished with two event wins.

Price-Smith was the men’s and women’s head coach for a decade before leaving for Ole Miss and many of her talent left as well, including national champion Raven Saunders.

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Saluki senior thrower Alexus Scott said the former teammates and coaches are still like family.

“It didn’t feel like we weren’t teammates,” she said. “We were all cheering each other on, and it was great seeing them again.”

The Ole Miss event winners were former-SIU sophomores Saunders and Lindsey Murray, who both left along with four assistant coaches last summer.

Saunders won the women’s shot put with a personal-best throw of 18.67 meters. Her best at SIU was 18.62 which is still the all-time indoor record.

Scott said the performance was not surprising.

“She is an [elite] shot putter,” she said. “It was nice seeing her again and I miss training with her.”

Saunders’ throw is an Ole Miss school record and moved her to No. 4 all-time in NCAA women’s indoor shot put history.

Saluki throws coach JC Lambert said Saunders will break the NCAA indoor record, which is 19.22 meters.

“She looks good, she looks strong,” he said. “Not to jinx her … but she’ll probably eventually break the outdoor record as well.”

Scott finished sixth in the event with a throw of 15.83 meters.

“I really wanted to come out with a personal record,” she said. “I have to recharge and come back next meet and attack.”

Scott said she needs to throw 55-feet in the shot and 65-feet, 7-inches in the weight throw to secure her spot at nationals.

She also finished sixth in weight throw with Saunders finishing seventh. Saunders’ first toss in the event, 19.61 meters, is her personal best and moved her to third in Ole Miss school history.

The women’s pole vault featured a battle between former teammates, too. Salukis junior Katie Trupp finished tied for fourth with a jump of 2.91 meters and Rebels sophomore Lindsey Murray won the event with a height of 3.01 meters.

Trupp said it was weird seeing Murray in a different uniform, but they still cheered each other on during the competition. 

“I was only a few inches off of my personal record,” she said. “I had some really good looks at a new personal record at the meet.”

Trupp’s personal record is 2.98 meters set at the 2015 MVC Indoor Track and Field Championships.

On the men’s side of the shot put, senior Josh Freeman won his second shot put meet this season with a personal-best 19.67 meters.

The throw improved on his SIU record, but Freeman said he was disappointed throughout the meet and wanted more distance.

“It’s fine, it’s early in the season,” he said. “I know what I need to do to find that extra two or three feet.”

Freeman said his goal is to throw more than 20 meters as soon as possible and to not lose a meet all year, including the NCAA Indoor Championships. 

Freeman’s personal record is third in the nation.

Lambert said Freeman has been consistent in practice and he expected a big day from the senior.

“He probably has another personal record or two in him [this season],” he said.

Junior high jumper Kyle Landon also joined the top three of his event. With a jump of 2.24 meters Landon won the event and is now second nationally. 

His jump was just shy of the automatic qualification mark of 2.25 meters for the Olympic trials.

All rankings are from the time of publication. Price-Smith denied comment for the story.

The Salukis next meet is the Gladstein Invitational beginning Friday in Bloomington, Ind.

Brent Meske can be reached at [email protected]

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