Daily Egyptian

Passing the baton: Eason and Maloney setting records for Saluki track

By Dillon Gilliland, Sports Reporter

With the Missouri Valley Conference Indoor Championships this weekend, it is only appropriate to look at one of SIU’s most successful teams, the female sprinters.

The Salukis have two young women who have led the way for the team; sophomore Shafiqua Maloney and junior Tyjuana Eason. Both have made their mark on the season by making history and taking home several event victories.

Maloney hails from St. Kitts and Nevis, a small, dual-island that lies between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.

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The sophomore attended Verchilds High School and, in her short time at SIU, she has shown nothing but great potential.

Maloney did not have much time for preparation when she came to a Division I college as she was recruited only a month before her first meet.

“She did not have any time for preparation,” sprinter and hurdler coach Kathleen Raske said. “She had to adapt and adjust quickly.”

In her first year as a Saluki, Maloney was named All-MVC in the 400-meter and one of the members of the MVC championship relay team in both the 4 x 100 and the 4 x 400 relays.

Maloney’s 4 x 100 relay team set a record for the fastest time at the MVC Outdoor Championships with a time of 44.30 and qualified for the NCAA West Regional.

The St. Kitts native is most known for her energy, positive vibes and keeping a lively mindset.

“She is a very happy person,” Raske said. “She’s always laughing and giggling, but when she is on the track she is serious.”

Her teammates stated their love for the sophomore and their joy in training with her.

“She motivates me in ways that no one else can,” senior sprinter Chrissa Harris said. “She pushes me inside and out of practice. She helps me keep a positive mindset.”

So far this season, Maloney has taken home three wins in the 400-meter along with a solo win in the 200-meter.

Maloney’s teammate, Eason, reigns from Kankakee and attended Kankakee High School where she was not only known for her speed but her volleyball skills, as well.

The Kankakee native stated that she showed more interest in track because she liked to compete on her own and not have to always depend on a team.

Although Eason had several Division I scholarship offers, she only considered Southern Illinois.

“I just liked the vibe I got when I visited SIU,” Eason said. “I really liked the coaches and the campus was nice.”

When beginning her Saluki career, Eason suffered a strained hamstring. However, the junior returned to compete in the outdoor season where she earned All-MVC in the 4 x 100 relay.

“I feel like my injury made my comeback stronger,” Eason said. “It helped me get in the right mindset.”

In her second year at SIU, Eason had her breakout season and was named All-MVC in both indoor and outdoor.

The junior was also a member of the relay team that took the MVC Championship in the 4 x 100 relay and was an NCAA West Regional qualifier in the 4 x 100 relay and the 200-meter dash.

“My sophomore year I started to feel like I was a part of the team,” Eason said. “I started to realize that I could achieve my goals.”

In her junior year at SIU, Eason still continues to improve on her craft, as she currently sits on two wins in both the 200-meter and 60-meter.

At the Illinois Open, Eason broke SIU’s program record in the 200-meter. She later followed up her performance with an even faster time at the Black and Gold Premier, breaking her own record.

“It’s amazing,” Eason said. “I honestly never thought I would own a school record in an event.”

Although she has been excellent for the Saluki track and field team, the SIU record holder is still not pleased with her times.

“I want to build on my times,” Eason said. “I’m still not where I want to be.”

Both Eason and Maloney have led their relay team to victories in the 4 x 400 relay and, currently, have the second fastest time in the event in the MVC.

“It’s the chemistry,” Harris said. “It is so much more than just running around really fast and passing around a baton. It’s our chemistry.”

With the team showing more and more success as the season goes on, they are hoping that fans will come to their meets and continue to cheer them on.

“We need a great deal of support,” Raske said. “We hope that people will come out and support us.”

More than anything, the team has shown that track is more than just a sport.

“We are a family here,” Harris said. “We want to see each other do good and no matter what we are always proud of each other.”

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

To stay up to date with all your SIU news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.

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