March 24, 2012
By Robin Thuringer
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Southern Illinois track and field teams opened up the 2012 outdoor season winning nine event titles this weekend at the Black and Gold Invitational hosted by Vanderbilt University.
Competition began Friday but was postponed until Saturday morning due to rain. Over 700 athletes from 18 schools competed in the meet.
"Besides the weather being bad I thought everyone did a great job coming out and giving their best effort," said SIU head coach Connie Price-Smith. "It was a really good first meet to start the season."
Despite the wet conditions over the weekend the Saluki women opened their outdoor season strong taking the top spot in six events.
Freshman Nirupama Sunderraj competed in the 200-meter dash finishing with a time of 25.05 to claim the first title on the women's side. Fellow freshman Amiris Warren finished in third at 25.34. Lauren Cheadle and Deiree White also competed placing ninth and tenth, respectively. White and Cheadle also ran in the 100-meter dash. White finished in fifth at 12.67 and Cheadle followed behind in sixth with a time of 12.83.
In the women's 1500m run, six Saluki freshmen placed inside the top-25. Mobola Rotibi was the top finisher for SIU placing 12th with a time of 4:43.62. Sadie Darnell finished two seconds behind at 4:45.68, finishing 13th.
Laquitsha Bejolie placed 11th in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 14.95. McKenzie White finished 17th (15.51).
In the jumps, Kenya Culmer placed second in the high jump with a clearing of 5-09.25, now ranking her second in SIU history. Malaikah Love took third in the long with a leap of 18-10.00. Love also competed in the triple jump, winning the event with a mark of 41-08.75.
Coming off her national championship weight throw win, Jeneva McCall had an outstanding opening to her senior outdoor season sweeping the titles in the shot put, discus throw, and hammer throw. In the shot, McCall recorded a toss of 58-01.75. Kim Fortney and Rickael Roach placed fourth and seventh, respectively.
McCall recorded a winning mark of 182-08 in the discus. Freshman Ashley Gaston and DeAnna Price had impressive marks in their first collegiate outdoor meet. Gaston finished second recording a toss of 150-07 while Price took fourth at 143-04.
Mallory Dreyer placed fifth among 19 competitors in the javelin throw with a toss of 122-11.
"We had some great competition at this meet and it made everyone really work hard so that is always good."
On the men's side, Spencer Jackson took third in the 100-meter dash with a time of 11.30. Tyler Fisher finished fifth. Ryan Sidwell placed fourth in the 200-meter dash and third in the 400-meter dash recording times of 22.57 and 48.88, respectively.
Matt Benes placed fifth in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 14.68. The men's 4x100 Relay team placed second behind Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a time of 42.35.
Freshman Curits Wideman won the discus throw with a toss of 165-09. J.C. Lambert was the next Saluki finisher placing third.
Lambert placed second in the shot put with a throw of 54-07.25. Brad Foote placed eighth. Lambert was the last winner for the Salukis taking the top spot in the hammer throw. The senior's mark of 210-05 topped 26 competitors. Collin Otto placed second and Bradley Sauer finished seventh.
"There were a lot of great performances today and I am really looking forward to the rest of the season," said Price-Smith.
The Salukis will return to action Saturday, March 31 when they travel to Oxford, Miss. to compete in the Ole Miss Invitational.