March 14, 2008
By Ryan Shaw
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Southern Illinois senior thrower Brittany Riley defended her weight throw title from last season today at the 2008 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships.
Riley won the event with a throw of 83-01.75 (25.34m), which was only 22 centimeters below the unofficial world-record mark she set last season.
Riley's winning throw came on her third attempt of the day. She also recorded throws of 21.28m, 23.31m, 22.96m and 24.19m.
Her closest competitor was Arizona State's Jessica Pressley, who threw a 72-04.75 (22.04m), giving Riley the win by over 10 feet.
"I felt good," said Riley. "I've been throwing far in practice the last couple of weeks and I really felt like I could go out there and do well. I was really hoping to break my record and I didn't, but I'm very glad that I came out with the win."
With her repeat title, Riley won the fifth indoor championship for SIU in the program's history. Also included in the Salukis' record books are Riley's 2007 weight throw title, George Wood's 1966 shot put win, Terry Erickson's 440-yard win in 1973 and Michael Franks' 1985 400-meter win.
Riley remains only the second female athlete to win an indoor national championship in Missouri Valley Conference history.
Indiana State's Holli Hyche (55m dash, 200m dash in 1993; 100m dash in 1994) and Riley (weight throw in 2007) are the only two to accomplish the feat while competing for Valley schools.
Also competing for SIU at the NCAA meet was junior jumper Bianca Stuart, who participated in the long jump.
Stuart placed 13th in the competition with a jump of 20-01.00 (6.12m). The distance is the only one Stuart recorded after fouling her first two jumps.
"I let my nerves get the best of me and I didn't jump as far as I wanted to," said Stuart. "But it was great experience and it gave me confidence going into the outdoor season."