Connie Price-Smith to be inducted into the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame

    Connie Price-Smith as Homecoming Grand Marshall, 2012

    Connie Price-Smith as Homecoming Grand Marshall, 2012

    May 13, 2014

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    By Tyler Wooten

    ST. LOUIS -- Saluki track and field head coach Connie Price-Smith will be inducted into the 2014 class of the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame in September.

    She will be inducted into the hall alongside such St. Louis sports staples as Chris Carpenter (St. Louis Cardinals), Aeneas Williams (St. Louis Rams/Arizona Cardinals), Brian Sutter (St. Louis Blues), Orlando Cepeda (St. Louis Cardinals) and Dan Kelly (St. Louis Blues broadcaster).

    "I am extremely excited and honored to be selected as an inductee to the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame," Price-Smith said. "The pride and privilege to be included among such a great group of individuals is intoxicating. No matter how many times you're congratulated and honored for your success, it's always special. The fact that this is so close to home makes it even more special."

    Price-Smith, a native of St. Charles, Mo., is one of the most decorated athletes Southern Illinois has ever produced. Although she is remembered for her remarkable track and field career, she began her Saluki career as a four-year starter on the Saluki women's basketball team (1980-84) and ended her basketball career as two-time All-Gateway honoree and one of the best players in SIU history. Her junior season she led the nation in field goal percentage (.650) and today she still ranks in the top-ten all-time at SIU in scoring (tied for fifth, 1,271), all-time field goal percentage (fifth, .571) and rebounding (seventh, 744) among several other lists.

    Her greatest accomplishments, however, came in the shot put and discus over the next 15 years. Her throwing career began in her fifth year of college eligibility in 1985 thanks to then-graduate assistant and future husband, Saluki All-American shot putter John Smith. What followed were four Olympic appearances in 1988 (Seoul), 1992 (Barcelona), 1996 (Atlanta) and 2000 (Sydney). In the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Price-Smith finished fifth in the shot put at 19.21m (63-00.50) -- less than five inches away from a bronze medal. She became the only female Olympic finalist in SIU history and the highest American finisher in the shot put since 1960. At the end of her career, Price-Smith was one of only 14 American female athletes and 30 American athletes of either gender to go to at least four Olympiads.

    All told, Price-Smith was a seven-time international medalist and won 25 combined titles in the United States during her career -- including five US Olympic Trials championships. Her world rankings in the shot put in 1995 (6th), 1996 (5th), 1997 (6th), 1998 (3rd), 1999 (7th) and 2000 (3rd) made her the first U.S. woman to ever be world-ranked in the shot put for six consecutive seasons.

    As a coach, Price-Smith has led SIU to five Missouri Valley Conference team championships -- including the first men's championship in 20 years indoors in 2012. In 13 seasons at the helm, Price-Smith has coached a staggering 42 All-Americans and five individual national champions -- which includes three NCAA titles from world-ranked thrower Jeneva McCall and two from weight throw world-record holder Brittany Riley.

    Price-Smith is the second Saluki to be inducted in six years of the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame, as just last year SIU sprinter Ivory Crockett was honored. Crockett set the still-standing 100 yard dash record at 9.0 seconds on May 11, 1974 -- for which he was dubbed "the world's fastest human."

    The induction ceremony is set for Wed., September 24, at the Grand Renaissance Hotel in downtown St. Louis.

    Connie Price-Smith Track and Field Career Highlights
    • Four-time Olympian (1988, 1992, 1996, 2000)
    • Finished fifth in the shot put in 1996, four and one-half inches away from a bronze medal
    • 1996 finish was the highest for an American in the shot since 1960 (Earlene Brown, third, Rome)
    • Her fifth-place throw of 63-00.50 was the longest throw ever by an American in the Olympics
    • Ended her career as one of only 14 female athletes and one of only 30 US athletes of either gender ever to compete in four Olympiads
    • Five-time Olympic Trials champion (three shot put titles, two discus titles)
    • Won every US shot put title from 1992-99
    • Made every US team for 15 years from her first season in 1987
    • In total, owns 18 USA outdoor national titles, seven indoor titles
    • Ended career with more national titles in the throws than any woman in US history (25)
    • Set the USATF National Outdoor meet record in the shot put (19.60m/64-03.75)
    • In 1992, became the first woman to win both the shot put and discus at the Olympic Trials in 32 years (1960, Earlene Brown)
    • No thrower has doubled at the Olympic trials since
    • First woman to double (win both SP and DT) at national meet in 30 years; did so three times (1990, 1993, 1994)
    • Best female doubler in US history, 15th-best ever in the world
    • Still holds the USATF National Outdoor meet record in the shot put (19.60m/64-03.75)
    • Only American woman to be world-ranked in six consecutive seasons
    • Seven-time international medalist (Pan-American Games (4x), IAAF World Championships (1x), IAAF World Cup (1x), Goodwill Games (1x))
    • 12-time IAAF World Championship qualifier
    • 1995 silver medalist at the IAAF Indoor World Championships (shot put)
    • 1995 WC medal was and is the highest medal for an American woman ever in the shot put; first since 1960 (Earlene Brown)
    • Only American thrower to ever make seven Grand Prix Finals
    • In the shot put, made 76 throws over 19 meters (62-05.00) and five over 64 feet
    • In the discus, made 48 throws over 200 feet and nine over 210 feet
    • Shot put personal best: 19.60m (64-03.75)
    • Discus personal best: 64.82m (212-08)

    Connie Price-Smith Basketball Career Highlights
    • Was a member of the Saluki women's basketball team from 1980-84
    • Her junior season (1982-83), she led the nation in field goal percentage at .650 -- an all-time SIU single-season record
    • Ranked tied for sixth all-time in scoring (1,271)
    • Fifth all-time in field goal percentage (.571)
    • Seventh all-time in rebounding (744)

    Connie Price-Smith Coaching Career Highlights
• Saluki Track and Field head coach from 2004 to present; Saluki Women's Track and Field coach from 2001-04
    • Five-time MVC Coach of the Year (2005 & 2009 indoor, 2009 & 2010 outdoor, 2012 indoor)
• Five MVC team championships (2005 & 2009 women's indoor, 2009 & 2010 women's outdoor, 2012 men's indoor)
    • Coached 42 All-Americans and five NCAA national champions
    • Coached 155 MVC champions and 15 MVC Most Valuable Athletes

    Miscellaneous Awards and Honors
    • St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame (2014)
    • MVC Hall of Fame (2012)
    • Saluki Hall of Fame (1990)
    • SIU Distinguished Alumni Award (2001)
    • SIU Administrative/Professional Woman of Distinction (2007)
    • In 2013, Lew Hartzog Track and Field Complex and Connie Price-Smith Throws Area were dedicated, the first facility on SIU's campus named after an African-American female

    Fellow Inductees
    Chris Carpenter - St. Louis Cardinals
    Orlando Cepeda - St. Louis Cardinals
    Al Ferrari - St. Louis Hawks
    Gene Gieselmann - St. Louis Cardinals (trainer)
    Ed Hightower - NCAA Basketball official
    Todd Joerling - Men's Softball
    Kristin (Folkl) Kabarakis - Basketball/Volleyball
    Dan Kelly - St. Louis Blues Broadcaster
    Gus Otto - Missouri Tigers/Oakland Raiders
    Bob Plager - St. Louis Blues
    Connie Price-Smith - Olympics/Southern Illinois
    John Schael - Washington University Athletic Director
    Harry Statham - McKendree Basketball
    Brian Sutter - St. Louis Blues
    Taylor Twellman - Olympic/Pro Soccer
    Aeneas Williams - St. Louis Rams/Arizona Cardinals

    Special Achievement Awards

    Metro Legend Award
    Jim Lemen - John Burroughs Football

    Community Service Award
    Lindenwood University

    President's Choice Award
    Jim Kavanaugh - Contributions to Soccer

    St. Louis Award of Champions
    Ballwin American Legion Baseball (1974 National Champions)