Jumpers create a dominant dynamic duo

Jumpers create a dominant dynamic duo

By Symone Woolridge

Two dominant Salukis have jumped into SIU record books.

First year college athlete Kyle Landon, and Kenya Culmer, who is in her last season, have led the track and field jumpers this season.

Culmer imprinted her name in the SIU record books and has progressed every season during her four years as an SIU athlete.


The former shy girl flew thousands of miles from where she grew up in the Bahamas to become one of the most dominant athletes on the track and field team.

During her first year, Culmer barely spoke to any of her teammates and was even shy to compete. Jumping coach Andre Scott was the only person Culmer would talk to.

Scott said Culmer has developed into a great athlete and it has been great to watch her grow.

“If I had a daughter it would probably be her,” Scott said. “That’s what I want my daughter to be like. She is pretty much everything I would want in a student-athlete.”

Culmer has broken the SIU high jump record three times and has made every bit of her final year count. She even broke her own SIU all-time record in the indoor high jump last season after clearing 5 feet.

This year, the senior has finished in first place eight times and even pushed her career-best record to 6 feet (1.83m) during the last day of the Missouri Valley Conference Indoor Championships March 2.

Culmer qualified for the NCAA championships and finished in 16th place. Last year she collected four All-MVC honors and broke several records.


“Athletes like her are hard to replace,” Scott said. “I’m not going to go out there and easily find someone who can jump 6 feet and also have that attitude to go above and beyond what you ask them to do.”

Culmer said SIU has become a place that she can call home.

“It’s crazy to know how nervous I was when I first got here and how bad I wanted to go home after I spent days crying,” she said. “Now I don’t even want to go back to the Bahamas. I will eventually, but just not anytime soon.”

Culmer is not alone in bringing dominance to the jumpers’ team; freshman Kyle Landon has made his name known in his first season as a Saluki.

The two swept the MVC Indoor Championships together, which was the first indoor Saluki high jump sweep since 2002.

“You don’t have to go somewhere big to do anything great,” Landon said. “SIU is a big enough college for me and I like it here.”

He said his first year has been moderately comfortable, but his workouts have been completely different than he expected.

Since high school, Landon has had a huge support system throughout southern Illinois. He played basketball, ran cross-country and participated in three jumps at Chester High School, where he collected seven state championships.

The freshman has made a huge impact on the SIU jumpers’ team and has continuously pushed himself to reach the top.

As a first year college athlete, Landon walked away with nine victories out of the 11 meets he competed in.

“By the time I leave here I want to qualify for the Olympics and I want to be a 7-7 (7 feet, 7 inches) jumper,” he said.

The freshman posted the best mark at SIU in nine years after clearing 6 feet (10.75m) at the Saluki Open. A week later, Landon secured his spot in the SIU indoor record books after leaping 7 feet.

Before the Kansas Relays, Landon said his goal was to hit 7 feet in the high jump. This past weekend he cleared 7 feet (2.50m) to mark his personal best record.

Scott said Landon is an athlete who always does what he is asked and is willing to do whatever it takes to get better. He is also Scott’s first SIU male jumper to maintain a 4.0 grade point average.

“It’s hard to find kids like him now who have the work ethic and is generally good,” Scott said. “Academically he is a solid kid. He’s probably better academically than he is athletically so he is going to go a long way in life with the qualities that he has.”