Daily Egyptian

Thrower returns; wins MVC Championship

By Brent Meske, @brentmeskeDE

One year was enough time for a national qualifier to go from the sidelines to the top of the podium.

Junior thrower DeAnna Price won the Missouri Valley Conference indoor women’s weight throw championship Saturday after sitting out last year’s championship with a knee injury. 

Throws coach John Smith said he was not surprised to see Price win her first MVC championship after returning from injury.

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“All I had to do was get her going again,” he said. “With her power, everything would just fall back into place.”

Price hurt her knee in shot put practice last year and went nine months without throwing regularly. Smith called the injury the angry trifecta because Price stretched out the anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments, as well as the medial collateral ligament in her left knee. 

After the injury Price took a few weeks off and returned to try weight throw again at last year’s MVC indoor championships.

Track and field coach Connie Price-Smith said she made the decision to pull Price during the competition to prevent further injury.

“We let her [compete]… in hindsight we shouldn’t have,” she said. “She was doing everything she could but her knee wasn’t going to hold up.”

Smith said the injury was because of lateral strength. He said Price could handle just 65 pounds on the left leg but could support 205 pounds on the right. Smith would not let her throw again until she could support 200 pounds on each leg. 

The injury kept Price out of the ring during the 2014 outdoor season—resulting in a redshirt year. But the extra workouts has Price clearing 405 pounds in front squat during workouts, making her the strongest female thrower Smith has ever coached. 

Price is no longer required to wear a knee brace during competitions because her muscles have been strengthened, reinforcing the previously stretched out ligaments. Price threw shot put without the brace for the first time last week but will continue to wear the brace during weight and hammer throws because of the spinning motion.

Price-Smith said throwing without the brace showed confidence, something that can continue to make Price a better thrower.

“When DeAnna has confidence, she can take on the world,” she said. “It’s coming back slowly.”

In her final indoor season of eligibility, Price has won four of six weight throw events. She also broke her personal record four meets in a row. Her best is 21.64 meters set at the Fred Wilt Invitational on Feb. 13. Her personal record also moved her to No. 4 all-time on SIU’s indoor best list and No. 7 in the nation.

Price said the reward was well worth pushing through the pain.

“It was a long, grueling process,” she said. “I couldn’t have done it without my teammates. They kept pushing me when I didn’t believe I could do it anymore.” 

Price-Smith said this year and last were completely different stories, and it was amazing to see Price come back this year and win the championship.

“She was crying [Saturday] out of joy,” Price-Smith said. “Last year she was crying out of injury, sadness and pain.”

Price was joined on the podium by senior teammate Sophia Lozano, who finished second at the MVC indoor championships and also qualified for nationals. Price and Lozano have placed first and second respectively at three meets and have combined for five weight throw wins this year.

Lozano­­—currently ranked No. 9 in the nation—won the MVC indoor championship and qualified for nationals last season a throw after Price was pulled from competition. The two planned to qualify for nationals together but Price’s injury prevented it.

“At the point she got hurt, we both knew [qualifying] wasn’t possible,” Lozano said. “It was… really emotional.”

The teammates attended high schools in the same conference in Missouri and would often face each other in competitions.

Lozano said Price was much better than she was during high school, and the two built a bond because of Price’s attitude.

“[Price] was at a level beyond my wildest dreams,” she said. “She was the one winning all the meets when I was just excited to make finals.”

Price said she mentioned SIU to Lozano, who was originally planning on going to the University of Missouri, and is proud to see her accomplish so much at the university. 

At SIU, both have become MVC champions, qualified for indoor nationals and are in the school’s indoor top-10 all-time for weight throw. They are two of six female Salukis to surpass 70-feet in weight throw.

Price said she is happy to finally go to nationals with Lozano.

“We can finally do what we said we were going to do,” she said. “We want to impact SIU throwing history.”

Price and six other Salukis compete at the NCAA Indoor Championships beginning March 13 in Fayetteville, Ark. 

Brent Meske can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3311 ext. 269. 

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