By Robin Thuringer
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- The Southern Illinois men's indoor track and field team won the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Indoor Championship on Sunday with a two-day total of 142.50 points and the women's team placed fourth with 88.50 points.
This championship marks the 12th in program history but is the first win for the men since their Valley title 20 years ago in 1992.
"I am so excited for the men," said SIU head coach Connie Price-Smith. "They competed one for all and all for one, and I really loved to see that."
Connie Price-Smithwas awarded the MVC Men's Coach of the Year Award at the conclusion of the championship. This championship marks the first men's title under Price-Smith's direction.
The Saluki men were able to hold their lead for the second day of competition inside the UNI Dome. Indiana State trailed Southern closely throughout the championships but placed second overall with a total of 137 points.
The day began with the completion of the heptathlon events. Ryan Sidwellplaced fourth overall for the Salukis with a total of 5258 points, breaking his own school record by 178 points. Sidwell's best finish came in the 1000-meter run where he placed second with a time of 2:43.20. Sidwell also had an impressive third place finish in the pole vault with a clearing height of 15-09.00. The junior placed fourth in the 60m-dash and the high jump. He rounded out the heptathlon competing in the 60m hurdles (5th), shot put (9th), and long jump (11th).
After a win in the distance medley relay on Saturday, SIU kept the momentum going on the track placing ten athletes in the first eight positions to collect points for the team. Eric Reeves kicked things off with a sixth place finish in the 60-meter dash and a fifth place finish in the 200-meter dash. Dominic Williamsalso competed in finals of the 200 finishing third overall with a new personal best time of 22.28.
Stephen Arvanis took second place in the 800-meter run with a time of 1:52.62, finishing just a tenth of a second behind the first place finisher, Matthew Smoody of Illinois State. Lucas Cherryalso competed in the event placing seventh.
Junior Zach Dahleen claimed the MVC Championship to defend his title in the one-mile run. Dahleen, who entering competition held the fastest time in the Valley, finished the race with a time of 4:13.64 to keep the honors. Oscar Medinaplaced seventh in race with a time of 4:19.60.
The SIU men raked in the points in the 5000m run finishing with four runners in the top six places. Neal Anderson led the charge placing second with a time of 14:26.22. Kyle Kirchner and Zach Dahleentook the four and five spots clocking in at 14:43.39 and 14:43.73, respectively. Dan Dunbar rounded out the line-up coming in at 14:43.98 to place sixth.
The Saluki jumpers added to the points for the men. Kendrick Branch placed seventh in the high jump with a mark of 6-05.50. Maxim Bakana competed in the triple jump placing fifth with a distance of 48-01.75. Vincent Johnson followed in seventh place (46-08.75) and Kendrick Branchplaced eighth (46-05.50).
One day after earning his third consecutive conference title in the weight throw, J.C. Lambertfinished third overall in the shot put with a mark of 58-00.50. Adding to his honors, Lambert was named the Missouri Valley Conference's Most Valuable Field Athlete.
Junior Brian Cooperalso competed in the weight throw finishing in sixth place with a distance of 54-08.25 to add to the Dawgs final total.
"The assistant coaches did a great job of getting the athletes ready to compete and the athletes showed up and did just that," Price-Smith said. "Congratulations to my male athletes and my coaches, I couldn't be happier."
The SIU women were unable to move up from their third place position they held at the end of competition on Saturday. SIU fell one spot to finish fourth overall. The Lady Bears of Missouri State won the 2012 title with 132 points. Favored Wichita State just fell short finishing with 129.33 points to take second. Illinois State placed third.
"I think the women did a great job as well, we were seated fourth going into the championship and we held our own and had some great performances."
Senior Jeneva McCallended her successful indoor season in a winning fashion. McCall claimed her third consecutive MVC title in the weight throw Saturday and repeated the three-peat in the shot put. McCall's toss of 56-09.50 earned her the win in the shot. McCall was also named the Missouri Valley Conference's Most Valuable Field Athlete at the end of competition on Sunday.
Notably, throws coach John Smithearned his 50th, 51st, and 52nd Missouri Valley title this weekend.
Malaikah Love, who broke the Valley record in the pentathlon Saturday, added to her title by wining the triple jump. The MVC champion recorded a leap of 41-03.75. Kenya Culmeralso had success in the jumps placing second in the high jump with a height of 5-08.50.
Freshman sprinter Amiris Warrencontributed competing in two events. In the 60-meter dash Warren placed fifth with a time of 7.58 and placed sixth in the 200-meter dash with a time of 24.76.
Caselyn Hardingcompeted in the pole vault placing eighth setting a new personal record with a clearing at 11-05.25.
"With 20 of our 29 women being freshman, they did great in their first championships," Price-Smith said. "It was a really great day, now it is time for both teams to get ready for outdoor season."