Saluki men and women both finish third, Freeman breaks indoor shot put record at Notre Dame Invitational

    Sophomore Josh Freeman broke SIU throws coach John Smith's indoor shot put record on Saturday.

    Sophomore Josh Freeman broke SIU throws coach John Smith's indoor shot put record on Saturday.

    Jan. 25, 2014

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    By Tyler Wooten

    NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- The Saluki men's and women's track and field squads both finished third at the Notre Dame Invitational on Saturday, where Southern posted several impressive individual performances.

    SIU took home six event titles en route to its third-place finishes behind Michigan State and Notre Dame, besting Missouri Valley Conference foe Illinois State on both the men's and women's side.

    However, the story of the day came from a Saluki runner-up in the men's shot put. Sophomore Josh Freeman broke the SIU all-time indoor shot put record that has been held by throws coach John Smith for nearly 30 years (62-09.75, Feb. 4, 1984) on a monster personal best mark of 19.25m (63-02.00) -- nearly three feet better than his previous best set last year as a freshman indoors.

    "It was a nice throw," said SIU throws coach John Smith. "He finally turned his head off and got aggressive up front."

    Smith has had numerous excellent throwers in his 10 seasons at SIU, where his male shot putters hold seven of the possible 20 top-10 spots indoors and outdoors.

    "I wanted it to be done by one of my athletes," Smith said. "It was going to stand for 30 years this Feb. 4, and Josh knocking it down as a true sophomore is very good. It took me four-and-a-half years in college to set it and he got rid of it in one-and-a-half."

    Smith set the indoor shot put record on Feb. 4, 1984, and Smith recalled the similarities between that day and today.

    "I broke John Marks' record on Feb. 4, my father's birthday, and he was there to watch me do it," Smith said. "Josh's family drove down through a bad winter storm and barely made it to see his last throw, and that was the one. It reminded me of 30 years ago. It was meant to be."

    Smith still holds the outdoor record at 62-03.50, but Freeman isn't far behind in sixth place (59-04.25).

    However, Freeman went head-to-head with Illinois State's Curtis Jensen -- who owns the best mark in the country this season, professional or collegiate (20.29m/66-07.00, Dec. 6) -- and fell nearly two-feet short of first place. Freeman, who won the gold medal in the shot put at the Pan-American Juniors this past August, now ranks eighth in the nation in the shot put.

    Four of SIU's six event titles came in the field events. Freshman Kyle Landon set a new personal best for the third straight meet with his winning clearance of 2.17m (7-01.50). Landon, in just three collegiate meets, now ranks tied for fifth all-time on SIU's prestigious indoor high jump list and 13th in the nation.

    "Kyle was really excited about that mark," said SIU head coach Connie Price-Smith. "He made some really good attempts at the next height (7-02.00), too, so we feel great about him going forward."

    Southern swept the event for the second time in three weeks thanks to senior Kenya Culmer's victory in the women's high jump on a leap of 1.74m (5-08.50).

    SIU also swept the women's throwing events for the third time in four meets. Junior Ashley Gaston took the shot put with a winning launch of 15.78m (51-09.25), and junior DeAnna Price won the weight throw with a heave of 20.55m (67-05.25). Sophomore Alexus Scott finished in third place behind Gaston in the shot put, where she put up a personal best mark of 15.15m (49-08.50) -- which is now tied for tenth all-time at SIU.

    Behind Price in the weight throw was junior Sophia Lozano -- who finished second with a throw of 20.00m (65-07.50) -- and Gaston, who finished fourth with a personal best launch of 19.03m (62-05.25). Both Price and Lozano rank within the top-10 nationally in the event and would qualify for the national meet if the season were to end today.

    On the track, Southern's first event win came from junior mid-distance runner Mobola Rotibi in the 1000 meter run. Rotibi, a native of Tinley Park, Ill., rode to victory on a time of 2:55.10 in her first collegiate attempt in the event. Her time was within one half-second of breaking the school record, which has been held by Rosanne Vincent since 1989 (2:54.76).

    Senior Matthew Benes claimed the final Saluki win in the 60 meter dash. Benes won with a personal best time of 6.90 seconds, which bested his previous time (6.91) by one one-hundredth of a second and now ranks tied for ninth all-time at SIU (Anthony Seay, 2010). Benes was also the runner up in the 60 meter hurdles, where he posted a season-best time of 8.10 seconds.

    The Salukis had several other impressive individual performances on Saturday. On the women's side, both SIU entrants in the 3000 meter run posted personal bests. Junior Sadie Darnell finished seventh with a personal best time of 9:49.20 -- which now ranks third all-time at SIU -- and senior Eileen Schweiss also set a new PR with a time of 10:20.12.

    In the women's pole vault both freshman Katie Trupp and junior Caselyn Harding finished with the same height and tied for fifth place. Trupp and Harding both cleared 3.60m (11-09.75), a personal best for Harding who already ranked third all-time at SIU behind Trupp's second-place mark of 3.75m (12-03.50) set earlier this indoor season.

    In the women's mile run, junior Krista Menghini finished ninth and posted a new PR of 5:02.75 behind some of the best female milers in the country. In the race were three student-athletes from Michigan State and Notre Dame who hold times in the top-25 nationally.

    On the men's side, junior transfer Luke James was the runner-up in the triple jump with his second-best mark of the season at 14.20m (46-07.25).

    Junior thrower Curtis Wideman finished 10th in the weight throw and bested his previous mark by one and one-half feet. Wideman now ranks 42nd in the nation and 10th all-time at SIU with his best throw of 19.16m (62-10.50).

    As with the women's 3K, both SIU runners in the men's mile set new personal bests in the event. Juniors Oscar Medina (eighth, 4:11.75) and Juan Carrera (11th, 4:17.15) set new PRs by a considerable amount. Medina bested his previous best by six seconds, and Carrera by nearly three. Freshman Andrew Carmin performed a similar feat, clocking in nearly two seconds faster than his previous best in the 800 meter run with a ninth-place time of 1:56.95.

    Finally, in his first collegiate meet Saluki Football junior wide receiver/return specialist LaSteven McKinney finished fourth in the 60 meter dash with a time of 7.06 seconds.

    "I think the (scoring) format made (the meet) a little more interesting," Price-Smith said. "We were all competing towards something for the first time this year, and that's good practice for the conference meet. We had some really nice PRs not only in the field, but on the track as well."

    Saluki track and field will return to the Hoosier State next Friday and Saturday, Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, for the Indiana Relays in Bloomington, Ind.

    Men's Team Scores:
    1. Michigan State - 179
    2. Notre Dame - 171
    3. Southern Illinois - 112
    4. Illinois State - 107

    Women's Team Scores:
    1. Notre Dame - 179
    2. Michigan State - 173
    3. Southern Illinois - 133
    4. Illinois State - 84

    Notable Scorers (Women):
    60 Meter Dash:
    4. Amiris Warren - 7.77
    6. Desiree White - 7.89

    60 Meter Hurdles:
    5. Shaneice Bufford - 8.98

    800 Meter Run:
    4. Mobola Rotibi - 2:15.19
    7. Allison Gallo - 2:18.59

    Mile Run:
    10. Alyssa Allison - 5:03.62

    High Jump:
    4. Cetrena Simmons - 1.65m (5-05.00)

    Long Jump:
    4. Sarah Rautio - 5.49m (18-00.25)
    6. Lauren Cheadle - 5.42m (17-09.50)

    Triple Jump:
    3. Kenya Culmer - 11.85m (38-10.50)
    5. Sarah Rautio - 11.40m (37-05.00)

    Notable Scorers (Men):
    60 Meter Hurdles:
    4. Kemar Jones - 8.30

    200 Meter Dash:
    6. Spencer Jackson - 22.58

    High Jump:
    3. Kemar Jones - 1.95m (6-04.75)

    Long Jump:
    3. Franklin Adams - 6.94m (22-09.25)
    6. William Davis - 6.80m (22-03.75)

    Triple Jump:
    4. Franklin Adams - 13.14m (43-01.50)

    Shot Put:
    4. Brian Cooper - 16.39m (53-09.25)

    Weight Throw:
    7. Josh Freeman - 17.76m (58-03.25)