SIU track team has a field day

SIU track team has a field day

By Symone Woolridge

The men and women demolished the competition at the second home track meet, collecting 14 event titles and finishing first overall during the weekend.

SIU began its competition strong, winning three of their first six events Friday evening.

The men ended Friday in first place with a total of 53.50 points. The Salukis’ score was 12 points ahead of second-place finisher Southeast Missouri State University.


Junior weight thrower Curtis Wideman lugged a long throw of 67 feet, which marks his personal best. The nearly 70-foot throw marks the fifth-best in SIU history and the 18th-best throw in the country.

Wideman has been improving and

working his way up in ranks. The Saluki said he has been trying to work hard to make it to nationals.

“Warming up, I knew I was going to throw big,” Wideman said. “So I was looking for my big throw, and it just so happened that it came Friday.”

Before every meet, Wideman prepares himself by praying and staying calm. He said this helps him keep focused, and keep his mind off of any distractions.

“I talk to God and ask him to guide me and watch over me when I throw,” he said. “I just base what I do in the ring off of practice and competition. I sometimes write things down to help ease my mind and when it’s competition time, I just try to take deep breaths.”

Freshman Chad Weaver finished first in the pole vault. Weaver


cleared 15 feet, which marked the best in competition.

The women’s weight throwers also preformed well, taking the top three spots. Junior Sophia Lozano won her second meet of the season, finishing first after throwing 65 feet.

The women ended the first day 36 points ahead of SEMO, accumulating 59 total points.

After the success on Friday, Saturday’s events went even better. The Salukis added 11 event titles.

Each team swept the boards, beating the second-place competition by a landslide. The men collected six of the 11 event titles and finished with 188.50 points, which was 40 more points than SEMO, who finished in second place.

Junior distance runner Oscar Medina finished first for SIU in the mile run with a time of 4:14.15. Medina trailed Western Illinois University senior Michael Castel until finishing strong right before the finish line.

Senior sprinter and hurdler Matthew Benes had a successful night after accumulating two individual wins.

Benes won the 60-meter hurdles, where he had a personal best time of 8.03 seconds. His time marks the fifth best time in the Missouri Valley Conference and the fourth best in SIU history.

Benes also defeated the competition in the 200-meter dash, finishing in 22.36 seconds. Four of his teammates placed within the top eight.

The throwers had another good day after sophomore thrower Josh Freeman threw 62 feet and won the shot-put event. Freshman Kyle Landon won yet another high jump event after clearing 7 feet.

The women matched the men’s effort as they collected five event titles and finished with 189 points, beating second-place finisher Austin Peay State University by 49 points.

Junior mid-distance runner Mobola Rotibi snagged her fourth win of the season after finishing first in the 800 meter run in 2.11.28, which ranks the best time in the MVC this season.

Rotibi said she has a similar technique as that of Wideman. She also writes things down to constantly remember what she needs to do to win.

“I wrote on my hands, ‘Turn it over and move,'” she said. “In my head I just tell myself, ‘Move, move, move,’ because I will get complacent and get comfortable and when I say turn it over it’s just for when I’m kicking it in because to move faster your feet have to hit the ground.”

Coach Connie Price-Smith said Rotibi has gotten stronger in other areas, not just physically.

“She has definitely improved in her mental game,” Price-Smith said. “So whatever she does with her hands or whatever routine she has is working for her, she just seems very focused and very driven right now. She’s a leader.”

Other women finished first in their event including junior distance runner Krista Menghini, who finished first in the mile, junior Ashley Gaston, who had a throw of 51 feet to win shot put, and senior jumper Kenya Culmer, who walked away with two wins.

Culmer won the triple jump after leaping 40 feet. She then went on to win the high jump after clearing five feet. Culmer is the Salukis’ all-time leader in the outdoor and indoor high jump.

Price-Smith said although everyone competed well, she would love to see them compete even better at the Grand Valley State University meet Friday and Saturday in Allendale, Mich.

“I just want them to walk in, be confident and strong, and show them what they can do,” she said. “We have three weeks until conference, so everything we do is building up to that, and I think we’re right on track.”

Symone Woolridge can be reached at [email protected]

or ext. 536-3311 ext. 269