Salukis wrap up solid day at both Kansas Relays and Mt. SAC Relays on Friday

    Senior Zach Dahleen ran among the country's elite at the Mt. SAC Relays.

    Senior Zach Dahleen ran among the country's elite at the Mt. SAC Relays.

    April 18, 2014


    Kansas Live Results | Live Stream (ESPN3)

    By Tyler Wooten

    All national and regional rankings are calculated using lists entering this weekend of competition. Rankings will change as results are recorded and reported throughout the weekend.

    Saluki track and field competed at two different prestigious meets in two different time zones on Friday, as Southern won one event title at the Kansas Relays in Lawrence, Kan., and had two Saluki distance runners among the country's elite at the Mt. SAC Relays in Walnut, Calif.

    Kansas Relays

    LAWRENCE, Kan. -- At Kansas, the Salukis were led by junior Ashley Gaston in the women's discus. Gaston, a native of Centerville, Ill., won the event on a monster personal best launch of 52.84m (173-04) -- more than six feet further than her previous best. The junior hit the winning distance on her second to last throw, down nearly two meters to the unattached Erica Brand.

    "It's a great feeling to know that you are behind and you still have a couple throws to go to be on top," Gaston said. "It was great to know that people were ahead of me on my second-to-last throw and know that I could come from behind and get on top to win it."

    Gaston now ranks third all-time at Southern in the discus behind only three-time NCAA champion Jeneva McCall and 2014 Saluki Hall of Fame inductee Amarachi Ukabam. In 2014 alone, Gaston now ranks 16th in the NCAA West Region, 24th nationally among collegiate competitors and 30th in the US among professionals and collegians alike.



    In the men's discus, SIU was able to notch two top-third finishes among some of the best collegiate discus throwers in the country. Junior Curtis Wideman finished fourth at 52.07m (170-10) and sophomore Josh Freeman finished sixth at 51.51m (169-00). The event winner, Nebraska's Chad Wright, ranks second in the NCAA and won the event on a throw of 60.32m (197-11).

    On the track, SIU recorded two finals qualifying times among some of the best sprinters in the country in preliminaries on Friday. First was senior sprinter Matthew Benes, who qualified in the 110 meter hurdles with a time of 14.62 seconds -- the sixth-fastest time in qualifying.

    Southern's women's 4x100 meter relay also qualified for finals with another season-best time -- the third-straight week an SIU women's squad has done so in the 4x100. Lauren Cheadle, Nirupama Sunderraj, Desiree White and Amiris Warren clocked the seventh-fastest qualifying time at 46.61 seconds.

    The men's 4x100 meter relay did not qualify for finals, but also set a season-best on Friday. William Davis, Franklin Adams, Spencer Jackson and Matthew Benes ran 41.87, the 11th-best time in qualifying.

    The final day of the Kansas Relays will start for the Salukis at 1:30 p.m. with both the women's shot put and 4x100 meter relay finals.

    Mt. SAC Relays

    WALNUT, Calif. -- More than 1,500 miles west of KU, Southern had two representatives at the prestigious Mt. SAC Relays on Friday: senior Zach Dahleen (1500m) and junior Sadie Darnell (3000m steeplechase).

    First up was Dahleen in the Invite/Elite section of the 1500 meter run. SIU's school-record holder in the event at 3:41.18, Dahleen finished 10th at a season-best time of 3:42.55. Although he finished 10th, Dahleen still finished ahead of 10 professional/post-collegiate athletes.

    Dahleen's time current sits at the top of the Missouri Valley Conference performance list and ranks seventh in the NCAA West Region, ninth in the NCAA and 14th in the US among all competitors in 2014. Event winner Chad Noelle of Oklahoma State set the second-best collegiate time in 2014 at 3:40.06 -- the fifth best among all competition in the country.

    Darnell finished 15th in the Olympic Development/Open Elite section of the 3000 meter steeplechase at a time of 10:49.65. Darnell, a native of Festus, Mo., who owns SIU's all-time record at 10:28.10, now ranks fourth in the MVC in 2014 in the steeple. Mississippi State's Cornelia Griesche set the country's third-best collegiate mark at 10:04.05.