Meet the strongest Saluki, Isaac Ingram

By Dillon Gilliland, Sports Reporter

SIU track and field’s senior thrower Isaac Ingram has dominated the competition in his signature event, the weight throw, all while showing the potential to create history in the sport.

Self-proclaimed as “just your average kid,” Ingram attended Harrisburg High School where he played track and football for four years while trying basketball for two years.

“I honestly just love sports and I’m open to anything,” Ingram said.


The Harrisburg native earned First Team All-Conference and Most Valuable Offensive Lineman in football.

In track, he broke the school record in the shot put which qualified him for the state meet.

“As a kid it’s nice to do those thing because it opens doors for you,” Ingram said. “Coaches get to see you and allow you to take your game to the collegiate level.”

Regardless of his success in track, Ingram claimed that he did not take track as serious as he did football.

“Track was just something I did on the side to see if I was good at it,” Ingram said. “But I fell in love with football.”

Coming out of high school, the former offensive lineman had an offer from SIU, as well as various Division III schools, to throw on the track team. He also received a football scholarship from McKendree University.

“I didn’t even consider SIU at first,” Ingram said. “I wanted to go to McKendree and play football.”


Ingram said that his love for football was the reason for his decision, however, if he could go back he would choose SIU over McKendree.

Upon arriving at McKendree, Ingram quickly found out how extreme the difference between high school and Division II football is.

“It was hell,” Ingram said. “Our first practice was midnight conditioning and it ran to 1:30 in the morning. We ran so much and players were throwing up, so it was literally hell.”

Entering his first season of college football, the offensive lineman was forced to redshirt because of the lack of playing time he was going to get which inspired him to transfer to SIU.

“I didn’t want to be at McKendree for five years,” Ingram said. “Honestly, if I have to be somewhere for five years, I might as well transfer and do what I want to do rather than sit here and be in a position I don’t want to be in.”

After leaving McKendree, with his offer from SIU still on the table, Isaac knew he wanted to come back home to southern Illinois and compete on the track and field team.

“The transition to SIU was awesome and I loved every bit of it,” Ingram said. “I loved the bigger environment and the people in general.”

In his first year of throwing, the criminal justice major finished fifth in the shot put at the Bill Cornell Spring Classic while also setting a few personal bests in the shot put and the hammer throw.

“It really meant a lot to me,” Ingram said. “You just have to trust the process and the hard work will pay off.”

The following year, Ingram began to expand on his craft as he earned his first event win in the weight throw at the Eastern Illinois University Friday Night Special.

He then finished third in the weight throw at the MVC Championships which earned Ingram All-MVC honors.

“My coaches knew I had it in me,” Ingram said. “It was just nice to see the grind come to light.”

In his third year at SIU, the transfer won event after event and became the MVC champion in both the weight throw and the hammer throw, qualifying him for the NCAA West Regional.

Currently, in his fourth and final year of eligibility, Ingram has won the weight throw four times in four meets.

At the Indiana Relays on January 27, Ingram posted a 71′-7.5″ in the weight throw, the seventh best throw in the nation and the third-best throw in SIU history.

“I expect him to break my school record, qualify for NCAA Nationals, and/or become an All-American,” throwing coach and SIU’s current record holder in weight throw distance James Lambert said. “He’s shown signs of doing it. It’s on him to compete and make it happen in a meet now.”

Ingram’s success has rubbed off on his teammates as senior thrower Jared Kern finished first at the Indiana Relays in the shot put with a throw of 62′-11.25″.

“Usually if Isaac does well, then we all do well,” Kern said.

Ingram’s current goals for the remainder of the season is to make it nationals and become an All-American.

“Once I achieve that, that will let me know that everything I did was worth it,” Ingram said.

The senior thrower credited much of his success to the various coaches he had throughout his career. However, he does not have a single favorite coach.

“Every program I had a chance to be a part of, I took something from each of those coaches,” Ingram said. “They instilled everything in me that I needed in order to become great.”

As his career comes to an end, he is confident that he made the right choice in transferring and joining the SIU track and field team.

“This is honestly just a great program,” Ingram said. “If I had a chance to go somewhere else, I wouldn’t.”

Sports reporter Dillon Gilliland can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @DillonGilliland.

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