Saluki women in first, men sixth after Day One of MVC Indoor Championships

    Junior Sophia Lozano (Photo Credit courtesy of Roland Ferrie, UNI University Relations).

    Junior Sophia Lozano (Photo Credit courtesy of Roland Ferrie, UNI University Relations).

    March 1, 2014

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    By Tyler Wooten

    CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- Saluki track and field posted a successful first day at the Missouri Valley Indoor Championships on Saturday, where the Saluki women lead and the men rank sixth after six scored events.

    The Saluki women (50) currently hold a two-point advantage over Indiana State (48), thanks largely to two MVC titles that contributed two-fifths of their Day One score.

    Southern's first MVC Champion in 2014 was Sophia Lozano in the weight throw. Lozano, who had been ranked second in the MVC behind teammate DeAnna Price until only a few weeks ago, won the title on a personal best launch of 20.89m (68-06.50) -- which, improves on her standing in fifth all-time at SIU and currently has her slated as the last qualifying spot in the national meet at 16th. This is the first MVC championship for Lozano and her second All-MVC honor, and this is the ninth MVC women's weight throw title for throws coach John Smith in 10 seasons at SIU.

    SIU was able to garner 12 more meet points out of the women's weight throw, where it snagged places four-through-six. Ashley Gaston (fourth place, 19.42m/63-08.75 PR), DeAnna Price (fifth, 19.25m/63-02.00) and Alexus Scott (sixth, 18.49m/60-08.00) each scored for Southern in the event.

    Fellow junior Lauren Cheadle won her first MVC crown as well, hers in the long jump. Cheadle, who set the Valley's best long jump mark in 2014 at SIU's first meet (Dec. 8) but was unable to top that mark since, leapt for a huge PR of 6.05m (19-10.25), which was six-and-one-quarter inches better than second place finisher Paige Knodle from Northern Iowa. Fellow Saluki Sarah Rautio also scored in fifth place at 5.72m (18-09.25).

    Cheadle's mark moves her up from eighth to fourth all-time at SIU. Her title was the ninth indoor long jump title in SIU history, the 16th in either the indoor or outdoor season, and the ninth in either season in the last eight seasons. This was the second All-MVC honor for Cheadle in her Saluki career.

    Cheadle also managed to qualify for finals in the 60 meter dash, where she ran a qualifying time of 7.65 seconds -- the sixth-best time today.

    Southern completed the Saluki sweep in the long jump with freshman Franklin Adams' victory in the men's long jump. Adams, who came into the conference meet ranked fifth in the MVC in 2014, stole the Valley title on a personal best leap of 7.36m (24-01.75) -- nearly a half foot better than his previous best. Adams' win is the first for SIU at the MVC Championships indoors since 1982 (Terry Taylor) and the first in either season since 1997 (Orlando McKee).

    SIU also compiled six additional All-MVC performers -- five of which came on the women's side.

    Junior Sadie Darnell further cemented herself in the SIU record books with her all-conference performance in the 5000 meter run. Darnell, who already owns the outdoor 3000 meter steeplechase record, set a new SIU record in the 5000 meter run at 16:48.74, which was good for third place. Darnell broke the previous record by seven seconds, which was set by Emily Toennies in 2011 (16:55.82).

    Fellow junior Krista Menghini joined Darnell in the record books, but just missed out on contributing to Southern's team score. Menghini finished ninth at 17:21.58 -- a personal best that is now the seventh-best time at SIU -- which fell less than two seconds shy of scoring.

    The distance medley relay team of Alyssa Allison, Jessica Jump, Allison Gallo and Mobola Rotibi also earned All-MVC status with their runner-up finish time of 11:54.96 -- four seconds behind the championship squad from Illinois State.

    Southern's final all-conference performer from Day One came from the men's side, where junior Curtis Wideman earned his second-career MVC runner-up finish. Wideman threw 20.37m (66-10.00) in the weight throw behind Illinois State's Akil Mills (21.19m/69-06.25).

    A handful of other Saluki athletes will have their chance to shine on Day Two, including eight SIU student-athletes who qualified for finals in prelims on Saturday.

    In addition to Cheadle, qualifying for finals on Saturday were: Mobola Rotibi (2:12.05) and Alyssa Allison (2:13.39) in the 800 meter run; Kelley Gallagher (5:09.09) in the mile; Matthew Benes in the 60 meter dash (6.93) and 60 meter hurdles (8.15); Kemar Jones in the 60 meter hurdles (8.13); and Oscar Medina in the mile run (4:26.78).

    Day Two will begin with the conclusion of the multi events, followed by the beginning of the field events at 11:30 a.m. and track events at 1:45 p.m.

    MVC Champions
    Franklin Adams - Long Jump
    Lauren Cheadle - Long Jump
    Sophia Lozano - Weight Throw

    Franklin Adams - Long Jump (1st)
    Lauren Cheadle - Long Jump (1st)
    Sadie Darnell - 5000 Meter Run (3rd)
    Sophia Lozano - Weight Throw (1st)
    Curtis Wideman - Weight Throw (2nd)
    Distance Medley Relay - Alyssa Allison, Jessica Jump, Allison Gallo, Mobola Rotibi (2nd)

    Women's Long Jump
    5. Sarah Rautio - 5.72m (18-09.25)

    Women's Weight Throw
    4. Ashley Gaston - 19.42m (63-08.75) PR
    5. DeAnna Price - 19.25m (63-02.00)
    6. Alexus Scott - 18.49m (60-08.00)

    Men's 5000 Meter Run
    6. Juan Carrera - 14:41.90 PR

    Men's Distance Medley Relay
    7. Andrew Carmin, Blake Green, Kulayifi Haji, Cole Allison - 10:27.82

    Finals Qualifiers
    Women's 60 Meter Dash
    6. Lauren Cheadle - 7.65

    Women's 800 Meter Run
    4. Mobola Rotibi - 2:12.05
    6. Alyssa Allison - 2:13.39

    Women's Mile Run
    10. Kelley Gallagher - 5:09.09

    Men's 60 Meter Dash
    6. Matthew Benes - 6.93

    Men's 60 Meter Hurdles
    4. Kemar Jones - 8.13
    6. Matthew Benes - 8.15

    Men's Mile Run
    8. Oscar Medina - 4:26.78

    Other Notable Finishes
    Men's 60 Meter Dash
    9. LaSteven McKinney - 7.01PR - Missed qualifying by three-hundredths of a second

    Men's 200 Meter Dash
    9. Matthew Benes - 22.20 - Missed qualifying by less than one-tenth

    Men's Pole Vault
    9. Nathan Schuck - 4.80m (15-09.00) PR

    Women's Team Scores (Through six events):
    1. Southern Illinois - 50
    2. Indiana State - 48
    3. Wichita State - 36
    4. Illinois State - 27
    5. Bradley - 24
    6. Missouri State - 20
    7. Northern Iowa - 15
    8. Loyola - 9
    9. Drake - 5

    Men's Team Scores (Through six events):
    1. Indiana State - 64
    2. Illinois State - 37
    3. Loyola - 31
    4. Northern Iowa - 30
    5. Wichita State - 25
    6. Drake - 23
    6. Southern Illinois - 23