Salukis qualify 12 student-athletes for NCAA West Region Preliminary Round Championships

    Senior Zach Dahleen; Photo Credit by Chris Zoeller

    Senior Zach Dahleen; Photo Credit by Chris Zoeller

    May 22, 2014

    Championship Central | Schedule
    Men's Start Lists | Women's Start Lists

    By Tyler Wooten

    INDIANAPOLIS -- Saluki track and field has qualified 12 student-athletes to compete in 16 events at the NCAA West Region Preliminary Round Championships, which will be held at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark., on May 29-31.

    To qualify for the first round of the championships, student-athletes must rank within the top-48 in their individual events or must be on a top-24 relay team in their region (East to West) on the final qualifying list -- which, was released by the NCAA on Thursday. From there, the top-12 finalists from each regional meet advance to the NCAA Outdoor Championships at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Ore., on June 11-14.

    After scratches were applied Thursday morning, Southern ended up with six men qualified in nine events and six women in seven events. Since the two-region format was adopted for the 2010 outdoor season, SIU has sent a total of 83 student-athletes to compete at the first-round championships -- which averages out to roughly 16 student-athletes per season.

    Qualifying for the Saluki men were: Zach Dahleen (1500 meter run), Josh Freeman (shot put, discus), Luke James (triple jump), Kemar Jones (110 meter hurdles), Kyle Landon (high jump) and Curtis Wideman (hammer throw, discus, shot put).



    Freeman, SIU's all-time leader in the indoor (19.43m/63-09.00) and outdoor (19.86m/65.02.00) shot put, is coming off an exciting upset victory in the shot put at the MVC Outdoor Championships, where he also finished two inches shy of claiming the discus title as well. Fellow champions Luke James (triple jump) and Kyle Landon (high jump) will compete in their first regional meet, while veteran Zach Dahleen is looking to return to Eugene for the championships after earning second-team All-American honors in the 1500 in 2012. Wideman, a 2013 regional qualifier, is competing in the most events for a Saluki this season at three total (shot put, hammer, discus).

    Qualifying for the Saluki women were Sadie Darnell (3000 meter steeplechase), Ashley Gaston (shot put, discus), Krista Menghini (3000 meter steeplechase), Mobola Rotibi (800 meter run), Alexus Scott (shot put) and Katie Trupp (pole vault).

    Gaston, the 2014 MVC discus champion, ranks in the top-20 regionally in both events after scratches were applied (12th shot put, 19th discus). Gaston won't be alone in the shot put, as sophomore Alexus Scott also qualified with the 39th-best mark on the qualifying list. The Saluki women will also have a double-pronged attack in the 3000 meter steeplechase with new school-record holder and 2014 MVC runner-up Krista Menghini (11th) and fellow junior Sadie Darnell (30th). The scratch-down today also helped the final two Saluki women gain entry into the meet: Mobola Rotibi in the 800 (45th, ranked 58th before scratches) and 2014 MVC pole vault runner-up, freshman Katie Trupp (48th, ranked 50th before scratches).

    Southern also had a handful of near-misses. Dahleen, who qualified for the 1500, missed out on qualifying for the 800 as well by one-tenth (1:50.43) after scratches were applied. Fellow qualifier Ashley Gaston missed making it a trifecta in each of her three marquee events after falling one foot short in the hammer throw (57.06m/187-02). Junior Lauren Cheadle narrowly missed her second-straight long jump berth after falling two inches short at 5.90m (19-04.25).

    Senior Matthew Benes ends his solid Saluki career after missing out on joining teammate Kemar Jones in the 110 meter hurdles by 13 hundredths of a second (14.40). Fellow senior and SIU all-time high jump leader Kenya Culmer also saw an end to her storied Saluki career after falling three-quarters of an inch short in the triple jump (12.30m/40-04.25) and being pushed out of the high jump after ties were broken -- despite being ranked tied for 41st in the region.

    The NCAA West Region Preliminary Round Championships will be held May 29-31 at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark.

    Men's Regional Qualifiers (NCAA West Region - Top-48)
    4. Josh Freeman - Shot Put - 19.86m (65-02.00)*
    11. Kyle Landon - High Jump - 2.20m (7-02.50)
    14. Zach Dahleen - 1500 Meter Run - 3:42.55
    14. Curtis Wideman - Hammer Throw - 63.86m (209-06)
    32. Curtis Wideman - Shot Put - 17.64m (57-10.50)
    36. Luke James - Triple Jump - 15.12m (49-07.25)
    38. Josh Freeman - Discus - 54.17m (177-09)
    38. Kemar Jones - 110 Meter Hurdles - 14.18
    48. Curtis Wideman - Discus - 53.15m (174-04)

    Women's Regional Qualifiers (NCAA West Region - Top-48)
    11. Krista Menghini - 3000 Meter Steeplechase - 10:12.54*
    12. Ashley Gaston - Shot Put - 16.22m (53-02.75)
    19. Ashley Gaston - Discus - 53.95m (177-00)
    30. Sadie Darnell - 3000 Meter Steeplechase - 10:23.11
    39. Alexus Scott - Shot Put - 15.03m (49-03.75)
    45. Mobola Rotibi - 800 Meter Run - 2:09.09
    48. Katie Trupp - Pole Vault - 3.94m (12-11.00)

    * = School record