Saluki throwers lift heavy for high ranks

Saluki throwers lift heavy for high ranks

By Symone Woolridge

In preparation for competition in December, the track and field throwers have been facing intense weight training during the off-season.

Coach John Smith has been pushing his throwers to become even stronger by having the team spend a few hours in the weight room at least twice a week.

Smith said athletically, he treats his men and women the same in the weight room.


“A lot of what people think is good strength for guys, is what I think is good strength for girls,” Smith said. “I’m from a different era and it seems like a lot of places around the country forgot what strength and hard work is.”

The Saluki throwers welcome back eight men and six women, including their top woman thrower, DeAnna Price.

Price was the first SIU woman to win an All-American honor in her first two seasons as a Saluki. She was also the first woman in the National Collegiate Athletic Association to ever accomplish this feat. Price holds the best hammer throw in SIU history and her hammer throw personal best ranks as 18th best in the nation as of 2013.

Price said she pushes herself to be the best that she can, hoping to make it to the top position in the NCAA.

“There are no days off and you just have to keep pushing through it,” Price said. “I study while I’m out there because once you miss a day somewhere it takes two days just to make up just that one day.”

Price has taken a leadership role to the new throwers. She said she is very hard on herself; one reason being the newcomers look up to her.

“I have to push myself because the freshman are doing so great and I want them to keep it up,” Price said. “Once they see me pushing myself they will want to push themselves as well, and it’s the same with Big Red and the guys.”


Junior Bradley Sauer, also known as “Big Red,” was a second-team All-American, All-Missouri Valley Conference in weight throw indoors, and hammer throw outdoors, and an NCAA National qualifier as one of the Salukis’ top throwers.

Sauer will be redshirting this year because of shoulder surgery. Sauer was bench-pressing with heavy weights, which caused a labrum tear in his shoulder. Although Sauer will not be competing this year, he hopes to make it back to nationals next year. In the meantime, he will be cheering his team on.

“We have a group of talented freshman that could do something,” Sauer said. “We have the upperclassmen that are helping them, and if everybody sticks around and sets a pace, we will do pretty good.”

Although lifting weights may seem like second nature as a thrower, some freshmen are in the weight room for the first time. Freshmen Reneese Batson never had to lift weights at her high school.

“I’m lifting in ways I never thought was possible,” Batson said. “Coach has pushed me and seeing how stronger I have gotten so far is crazy, so if I just keep going I will be so much stronger.”

Alexus Scott is also an underclassmen, but has college throwing experience. Scott is the only sophomore woman on the throwing team and said she is working on technique in getting stronger to make it to nationals. Scott has also been guiding the freshmen to help them get stronger as well.

“We push them like they did me my freshmen year. We’re getting them prepared for what it’s like in conference because it is not a game.”

As the freshmen get closer to showing their talents in December, Coach Connie Price-Smith said she could not wait until the performance.

“I’m really excited to see how the hard work will pay off for everyone,” Price-Smith said. “I know some throwers compete and train all year or until the middle of June, and then you’ll have someone like Josh Freeman who made Pan-Am junior team who competed in August.”

Freeman, a sophomore thrower who had a successful season last year, is working hard during his off-season to make it even further than last year. Last season, Freeman was outdoor MVC shot put champion, All-MVC indoor shot put, and finished second in the shot put at the USA Track and Field Junior Championships.

“I know there was one meet last year specifically in indoor conference where I came in as a heavy favorite and I blew the conference title,” Freeman said. “So I just wish that in some of those bigger meets that I will be able to come through.”

After Freeman’s disappointment, his indoor performance became his motivation. Freeman stayed in Carbondale during the summer to train and also go to summer school. Freeman said he wants to be an indoor and outdoor All-American for shot put.

“I trained here all summer and have been training all fall, so I think all of my training will eventually pay off.”

With nearly a month left until the first meet, the throwers as well as the rest of the track and field team will finally get to show off their strength and tough training.

“We’re deeper this year, and we’re probably going to get more people to nationals and have more All-Americans,” Smith said. “If this group follows suit and keeps improving we will most likely be the one or two or three again this year.”