Salukis dominate first home meet of 2014

Salukis dominate first home meet of 2014

By Aaron Graff

The men’s and women’s track and field teams started the 2014 season with a bang, but some event winners were not ecstatic about their individual performances.

Coach Connie Price-Smith was pleased overall with the results of the team after its month-long winter break, but she is wasting no time in preparing them for the rest of the season.

In Saturday’s meet, the men’s team beat Belmont University 256 to 65 and the women’s team had 248 team points, beating Austin Peay State University with 137 and Belmont with 49.


Throwing coach John Smith said he expected more of the men’s shot -put throwers, even though SIU had the top five scores and it was the only event the throw team won first place in.

“The men’s shot (put) was probably my down event,” Smith said. “Even though Josh (Freeman) had a season best, Jeff Stewart had a season best and Brian Cooper had a season best, they left a lot on the table. They could have thrown a lot farther.”

Smith said he wants to get some of the athletes qualified for the national tournament and the only thing that matters is bigger meets. He said someone who does well at the conference and national tournaments automatically has a good year.

“These meets are training,” he said. “The only thing that means something is conference and NCAA’s.”

The jumping teams won all of their events apart from men’s pole vault, in which they had the top collegiate finish in freshman Chad Weaver.

Freshman Kyle Landon was nationally ranked second in indoor and third in outdoor high jump during his senior year at Chester High School. Landon won the high jump by clearing 2.10 meters, which is the best mark by a Saluki in nearly a decade.

“Coming in, I wanted to win my first collegiate meet right off the bat,” Landon said. “It’s a ton of pressure, it’s a ton of goose bumps let out and it felt good.”


Landon said even though he was focused on winning, he was trying to have fun. He said it has been easy to make friends on the team and being close to home helped with the transition into college life.

Junior transfer Luke James won the triple jump at 13.87 meters, but was not thrilled with his results.

“It’s cool to win, but I’m not really satisfied with how I jumped,” he said. “I really care more how far I got than first place, but I’m happy I got first. I can’t complain about that.”

James said he wants to reach around 15 meters, so he is going to do jumps after practice by himself and do little things every day to help get his body in better shape.

Both teams won three events ,including both 4X400 relays.

Senior Sadie Darnell won the mile with a time of 5:02.98 and was excited to see the team run as a pack. Darnell was within one-tenth of a second of her personal record and wants to get faster all season.

Cross-country coach Matt Sparks said Darnell has improved since last year, and he hopes she can take about five to 10 seconds off that time by the end of the year.

Darnell said she is glad she was able to start the spring season just as she finished the fall season.

“I’m really looking forward to the season,” she said. “Especially after our win in conference in cross country, I know our distance team is really strong so it’ll be exciting to see what the rest of our track team can do as a whole.”

Sparks said it would take more deliberation to figure out who will go to the Kentucky Invitational Friday.

“Those people that didn’t perform to what they needed to have a better understanding of what they need to do to get better,” he said. “That’s what competition is all about, figuring out where you were and what you need to do to get better.”

The track and field teams compete this weekend at the Kentucky Invitational in Lexington, Ky.