Daily Egyptian

Saluki track and field is ready to compete despite changes

By Ted Ward, @TedWard_DE

SIU track and field will return to action Saturday after an offseason full of change.

New Director of Track and Field Kathleen Raske leads a coaching staff of new hires into this season, with a women’s team that ranked No. 9 last year in the Associated Press poll.

Raske said she is excited about continuing to build on SIU track and field’s reputation.

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“Even though we’re not as deep on our women’s team, we believe they will make strides and perform well,” she said. “Building a team culture is important, and I’m implementing a few things that I do with all my teams over the years to build that team culture.”

The men’s team won the Missouri Valley Conference outdoor championship and the women’s team finished second in the MVC during the indoor season last year.

In throws, senior DeAnna Price won’t be available until the outdoor season after running out of indoor eligibility, but senior Josh Freeman is excited to compete in his final year.

“Working towards the Olympic Trials is a goal, but I’m focused re-breaking the school record I hold and winning the conference title while also scoring points for my team,” he said. “This year is one of my more healthy years. I have knee pain every once in awhile, but everything is healthy and it should be a good year for the team since we had a great fall workout period.”

Junior jumper Kyle Landon will attempt to build on an already successful career in which he won the MVC Outdoor Championship in high jump his sophomore year and the MVC Indoor Championship in high jump his freshman year.

New Assistant Head Coach Terry VanLaningham, who is in charge of pole vaulting and jumps, said Landon could help them repeat as conference champions.

“We’re a little deeper on the men’s team with regards to who we have returning and how much improvement there’s been,” he said. “[Junior pole vaulter] Nathan Shuck has made strides to build off last season and [community college transfer senior pole vaulter] Jonathan Walsh is training to do multiple jump events that will really help us out.”

Women’s pole vault will be without sophomore pole vaulter Lindsey Murray, who followed pole vaults coach Brian Porter to Ole Miss, and Caselyn Harding, who graduated.

Murray and Harding are first and fourth all-time at SIU for indoor pole vaults.

Junior pole vaulter Katie Trupp said she feels pressure to fill in and step up, but all four women’s pole vaulters have made adjustments with VanLaningham.

“As a team, it’s a collective effort between the four of us and we’re excited to finally go out and compete,” she said. “I’d love to see us do well and finish in the top four in pole vaulting.”

Trupp, junior Cara Engel, junior Katelyn Brown and junior Kacy Murphy are No. 3, 5, 6 and 7, respectively, at SIU for all-time indoor pole vaults. 

Raske said she is confident the Salukis will contend for conference titles this season even with the changes.

SIU track and field opens its season at 10 a.m. Dec. 5 at the SIU Rec Center.

Ted Ward can be reached at [email protected] or at 618-867-5309

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