Salukis travel to UNI for MVC Indoor Championship

    Sophomore Sadie Darnell

    Sophomore Sadie Darnell

    Feb. 22, 2013

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    By Tyler Wooten

    CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- Saluki track and field will travel north to the University of Northern Iowa for the Missouri Valley Conference Indoor Track and Field Championship this Saturday and Sunday.

    Since joining the Missouri Valley Conference in 1975, the Salukis have racked up 40 team championships (18 indoor - men 13, women five) and 701 individual champions (310 indoor). In 2012, the men earned their 13th indoor title, their first since 1992. The women, who received one first-place vote, are looking for their first indoor team championship since 2009.

    Entering the meet, Southern has won a total of 52 events thus far in the indoor season between the men's and women's squads. Yesterday, the Missouri Valley released its pre-championship poll, in which the Salukis were voted third and fourth in men's and women's competition, respectively.

    Men's Preview:
    From their 2012 championship squad, the Saluki men return seven All-MVC contributors, including two event champions.

    Three-time indoor All-MVC honoree Zach Dahleen -- the reigning mile run champion and member of the 2012 distance medley champion team -- currently has a wide margin in the mile run. Dahleen's season best time of 4:00.46 (still thirty tenths off his personal best) is over six seconds better than second place in the Missouri Valley. Dahleen is also ranked in the top-five in both the 800 meter run (second, 1:51.98) and 3000 meter run (fifth, 8:19.23).

    Ryan Sidwell has two Valley-best marks to his credit this indoor season. The senior native of Casey, Ill., has a narrow lead in the pole vault (5.05m/16-06.75) and 400 meter dash (48.42). Sidwell will also surely be the anchor for the Saluki 4x400 relay team, whose best time in 2013 of 3:17.20 ranks fifth in the Valley.

    Southern will have two bonafide title contenders in a highly contentious pair of throwing events.

    Sophomore Bradley Sauer, who currently holds third place in Saluki history in the weight throw, has the seventh best throw in the nation at 21.17m (69-05.50). To make things interesting, the country's best throw belongs to Brandon Pounds of Indiana State at 22.55m (73-11.75).

    Freshman Josh Freeman, 24th nationally in the shot put, has a two-foot lead in the Valley rankings for the shot put. Freeman's best launch of 18.48m (60-07.75) came at the EIU Friday Night Special, where the second-best Valley throw also came from (Derek Bunch, 17.72m/58-01.75).

    Also holding a two-foot lead at first place is 2012 All-MVC jumper, junior Dougie Palacious. The Bahamian native's best leap of 15.13m (49-07.75) is a little less than two feet better than Wichita State's Shazz Michael Lindo. Impressively, Palacious still has two inches to go on his indoor personal best and nearly two feet to go on his overall PR.

    The Saluki men sprinters will face stiff competition -- particularly in the hurdles due to No. 25 Indiana State, who owns two sub-8.00 times in the 60 meter hurdles, including Greggmar Swift's fifth best time in country at 7.68. However, Matthew Benes will challenge the powerful Sycamores. Benes holds two 60 meter hurdles wins and two more second-place finishes in 2013.

    Women's Preview:
    The Saluki women only return two All-MVC performers from 2012 (Kenya Culmer and Mobola Rotibi), but have the potential to score in packs to add to the cumulative team score.

    As expected, Southern's throwers have dominated in the indoor season, but the Missouri Valley is a hot bed of excellent throwing talent. No. 17 Indiana State's Felisha Johnson holds the country's best weight throw mark and is second in the shot put. Furthermore, Illinois State's Brittany Smith isn't far behind, ranked fifth and eighth in those events respectively. Southern's throwers will be led by the trio of Sophia Lozano (third in MVC in weight throw, 18th nationally), Kim Fortney (third in MVC in shot put, 24h nationally; fourth in MVC in weight throw, 19th nationally) and DeAnna Price (fifth in MVC in weight throw, 22nd nationally). Sophomore Ashley Gaston also has a chance to succeed for the Salukis in the shot put, where her mark of 15.23m (49-11.75) ranks fifth in the Valley.

    The distance events could also prove successful for the Saluki women. Southern hasn't taken an extraordinary number of distance event wins in 2013, but -- as with the cross country team in the fall -- the Salukis know how to stay in a pack at the top for the best chance at scoring for the team. That strategy may prove successful, for Wichita State's Aliphine Tuliamuk-Bolton holds the Valley's top spot in the mile, 3000m and 5000m races by wide margins. Alyssa Allison (mile), Sadie Darnell (3000m, 5000m), Kelley Gallagher (5000m, mile), Allison Gallo (mile), Lacey Gibson (5000m), Kristen Levi (5000m), Krista Menghini (3000m, 5000m) and Tori Parry (5000m) have all posted PRs within the last three meets, and 2012 indoor All-MVC selection Mobola Rotibi (800m) will likely give a boost to the distance medley relay team.

    Junior Kenya Culmer has had a monster season for Southern in the high jump. The Bahamian won five consecutive high jumps in the indoor season, and in her only second-place finish, she was the highest collegiate finisher after a tie break for the clearance of 1.76m. Culmer broke her own SIU indoor record in the high jump at 1.80m (05-10.75) at the University of Kentucky for the Rod McCravy Invitational on Jan. 25, and she set a personal best in the triple jump at the SIU Invitational on Feb. 2 with a leap of 12.20m (40-00.50), her first career triple jump win. Culmer is currently ranked second and third in the Valley in those jumps, respectively, and her high jump mark sits at 21st nationally.

    In the sprints, the Saluki women are paced by senior Tess Shubert, whose final indoor campaign has been consistently impressive. The Coulterville, Ill., native has not placed lower than the top-third of finishers in her individual sprints. In nine sprint events (200m, 400m, 600m), Shubert has five top-five finishes, which includes two second-place finishes and a win in the 400 meter dash at the Saluki Open on Jan. 12.

    Competition at Day One of the MVC Indoor Championships begins at 9:30 a.m. with the women's pentathlon and men's heptathlon.

    MVC Event Rankings (Top-Three):
    Mile: Zach Dahleen - First, 4:00.46
    Shot Put: Josh Freeman - First, 18.48m (60-07.75)
    Triple Jump: Dougie Palacious - First, 15.13m (49-07.75)
    400m: Ryan Sidwell - First, 48.42
    Pole Vault: Ryan Sidwell - First, 5.05m (16-06.75)
    800m: Zach Dahleen - Second, 1:51.98
    Weight Throw: Bradley Sauer - Second, 21.17m (69-05.50)
    Long Jump: Eric Reeves - Third, 7.22m (23-08.25)
    High Jump: Kenya Culmer - Second, 1.80m (05-10.75)
    Triple Jump: Kenya Culmer - Third, 12.20m (40-00.50)
    Shot Put: Kim Fortney - Third, 16.28m (53-05.00)
    Weight Throw: Sophia Lozano - Third, 20.32m (66-08.00)
    60m: Amiris Warren - Third, 7.57

    National Rankings (Top-50):
    Weight Throw: Bradley Sauer - Seventh, 21.17m (69-05.50)
    Shot Put: Josh Freeman - 23rd, 18.48m (60-07.75)
    Mile: Zach Dahleen - 35th, 4:00.46
    Weight Throw: Sophia Lozano - 18th, 20.32m (66-08.00)
    Weiht Throw: Kim Fortney - 19th, 20.26m (66-05.75)
    High Jump: Kenya Culmer - 21st, 1.80m (05-10.75)
    Weight Throw: DeAnna Price - 22nd, 20.13m (66-00.50)
    Shot Put: Kim Fortney - 24th, 16.28m (53-05.00)