Five Salukis to compete at NCAA Outdoor Championships

    Junior Ashley Gaston will compete in both the shot put and discus; Photo Credit by Jennifer Gonzalez

    Junior Ashley Gaston will compete in both the shot put and discus; Photo Credit by Jennifer Gonzalez

    June 10, 2014

    NCAA Outdoor Championships
     Dates June 11-14, 2014
     Location Eugene, Oregon -- Hayward Field (10,500)
     Meet Info Championship Central | Host Site | NCAA Home
    Schedule | Men's Start Lists | Women's Start Lists
     Live Results Flash Results
     Broadcast Schedule Wednesday, June 11: ESPN3 (5:55 p.m. CT)
    Thursday, June 12: ESPN3 (5:55 p.m. CT)
    Friday, June 13: ESPNU (6:30 p.m. CT)
    Saturday, June 14: ESPNU (4 p.m. CT)

    * Day Three will be rebroadcast on ESPNU Saturday at 10 a.m.
    * ESPNU broadcasts are available on ESPN3/WatchESPN app with a cable/satellite login 
     Rankings Men's National | Women's National | Team Rankings
     Performance Lists SIU Men | SIU Women | Stats Links
     Records SIU Record Book | Event-by-Event Info Sheets
     Media Guide Media Guide
     SIU Social Media @SIU_TrackXC  | Saluki Track and Field 
    Saluki Athletics  | Saluki Athletics  | Saluki Athletics 
     Other Links USTFCCCA | Track and Field News | USATF

    By Tyler Wooten

    EUGENE, Ore. -- Five Saluki track and field student-athletes will compete over the next four days at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at historic Hayward Field located at the University of Oregon.

    The Salukis will have five participants at the national meet competing in six events: Josh Freeman (shot put), Ashley Gaston (discus, shot put), Kyle Landon (high jump), Alexus Scott (shot put) and Curtis Wideman (hammer throw). Each Saluki in competition this week will have a chance to add their name to the illustrious list of SIU athletes to be named an All-American. In its history, Saluki track and field has had 145 First-Team All-Americans (top-eight), 19 NCAA Runners-Up and 15 NCAA Champions. Just last season SIU scored two more first-team honors, as former Saluki J.C. Lambert finished fifth in the hammer throw and current junior DeAnna Price finished eighth in the hammer.

    Since SIU head coach Connie Price-Smith took over the combined men's and women's programs in 2004-05, Southern has accumulated 44 outdoor national qualifiers (4.4 per year) and has had at least two representatives at the national meet outdoors each year. Over the past five seasons alone (dating back to 2010) SIU has had 27 outdoor national qualifiers, and in Price-Smith's tenure she has had at least one male or female outdoor All-American in each season except one (2009).

    Descending on Oregon this week will be representatives from 284 Division I schools competing in 1,008 championship entries. To get to this point, student-athletes needed to qualify for their NCAA Regional Preliminary Round Championship (East or West) and then needed to finish in the top-12 of their events at the regional meet in order to punch their ticket for Eugene. Those 24 student-athletes will be competing this week not only for team or individual national championships, but also to grasp one of the coveted top-eight spots for First-Team All-American status. Places nine-through-16 receive Second-Team distinction, and the remaining eight competitors earn Honorable Mention All-American status.

    Live results will be available at Flash Results and the championships will be broadcast by ESPN each day. Wednesday and Thursday's action can be watched for free on ESPN3, and Friday and Saturday's events can be watched either on ESPNU or on ESPN3/WatchESPN with a cable/satellite provider login that carries ESPNU.

    Salukis Competing at the National Meet
    Wednesday, June 11
    7:30 p.m. CT - Josh Freeman, Shot Put (Flight Two)

    Thursday, June 12
    3:30 p.m. CT - Curtis Wideman, Hammer Throw (Flight Two)
    4:00 p.m. CT - Ashley Gaston, Discus (Flight Two)

    Friday, June 13
    5:20 p.m. CT - Kyle Landon, High Jump (Flight One)

    Saturday, June 14
    3:00 p.m. CT - Ashley Gaston, Shot Put (Flight One)
    3:00 p.m. CT - Alexus Scott, Shot Put (Flight Two)

    * All times are central

    Wednesday Preview (June 11)

    Sophomore Josh Freeman finished third in the shot put at the regional meet; Photo Credit by Jennifer Gonzalez

    SIU's first competitor will be sophomore Josh Freeman in flight two of the shot put Wednesday evening at 7:30 p.m. CT. Freeman is coming off a third-place finish at the NCAA West Regional and an upset victory for the 2014 Missouri Valley Conference outdoor shot put title. In the process of winning the outdoor conference title -- his second in two seasons at SIU -- Freeman reset his own SIU all-time outdoor record and broke the MVC Outdoor Championships record in the process on his winning heave of 19.86m (65-02.00). His latest PR puts him ninth place in the NCAA and 26th in the United States in 2014.

    Freeman -- a native of Fox River Grove, Ill. -- has a chance to become the first male Saluki All-American in the outdoor shot put since three-time Olympian and two-time shot put silver medalist George Woods did so in 1966 (fourth place), the same year he won the NCAA indoor shot title. Across both the indoor and outdoor season, Southern has not had a male shot put All-American since current SIU throws coach John Smith did so indoors 30 years ago in 1984 (seventh place).

    Thursday Preview (June 12)

    Junior Curtis Wideman finished fifth at the regional meet in the hammer; Photo Credit by Jake Haines

    Thursday will feature two Saluki throwers: juniors Ashley Gaston (discus) and Curtis Wideman(hammer throw). First up at 3:30 p.m. will be Wideman in flight two of the hammer, who came through in the clutch at the regional meet in order to secure his spot in Eugene. In 10th place with two throws left, Wideman uncorked a personal-best throw of 64.32m (211-00) to launch himself up to fifth place. The Evanston, Ill., native's regional performance came off the heels of a third-place All-MVC performance in the hammer at the conference outdoor meet. At the regional meet, Wideman competed in three total events: the hammer, discus (47th) and shot put (16th).

    Gaston, the only Saluki to qualify for multiple events, will begin her stay in Eugene with the discus at 4 p.m. on Thursday. A native of nearby Centreville, Ill., Gaston was in the second-best flight of the regional meet but was still able to punch her ticket in the event. She stood in second place after two flights, and after the higher-seeded third flight took their attempts she found herself in finals with a chance. Gaston improved slightly in the finals round to cling to the 11th qualifying spot, her second ticket to Eugene in as many days as she qualified in the shot put just one day earlier.

    After already winning the 2014 MVC discus championship by five feet on May 18, Gaston now has a chance to earn All-American honors in both the shot put and discus -- something only one other Saluki has ever done: three-time NCAA Champion Jeneva McCall in 2010 (NCAA Champion in the discus, fifth in the shot put). Gaston will compete in the shot put on Saturday morning along with sophomore Alexus Scott.

    Friday Preview (June 13)

    Freshman Kyle Landon won two MVC high jump titles and finished eighth at the regional meet in his first year at SIU.

    At 5:20 p.m. on Friday, Southern's youngest competitor will take the stage. Freshman Kyle Landon, already a two-time MVC high jump champion, will look to join the esteemed ranks of Olympians Darrin Plab and Cameron Wright by adding his name to the list of SIU All-American high jumpers.

    Landon, a native of nearby Chester, Ill., came within one miss of his freshman campaign coming to a close at the regional meet on May 30. With two misses at 2.12m (6-11.50), Landon cleared on his third and final attempt to keep his season alive. He hit his next height of 2.16m (7-01.00) on his first attempt, which was good enough for eighth place and a trip to Eugene.

    Landon now has a chance to become the first Saluki All-American in the high jump since Cameron Wright did so indoors in 1996, and the first outdoors since Wright did in 1995. Southern has had considerable success in the high jump at the national meet. Wright was a five-time high jump All-American, and Plab won two NCAA Championships (1991-92, outdoors), was the 1992 indoor runner-up and still holds the seventh-best collegiate mark in NCAA history at 2.34m (7-08.00).

    Saturday Preview (June 14)

    Sophomore Alexus Scott finished 11th in the shot put at the regional meet; Photo Credit by Jake Haines

    Southern's final day in Eugene will revolve around the women's shot put at 3 p.m. Both Ashley Gaston (Flight One) and sophomore Alexus Scott (Flight Two) will compete in the shot for a chance to become the first Saluki teammates to earn First-Team All-American status in the same event since 2010. That season four Salukis (Gwen Berry, Jeneva McCall, Olga Ciura and Sasha Leeth) earned the distinction in the hammer throw, and indoors McCall and Leeth did the same in the weight throw.

    Gaston was the 2014 MVC shot put runner-up and enters the meet on the NCAA's 25th-best throw of 2014 at a PR of 16.22m (53-02.75). Scott, a native of Greenbelt, Md., hit a huge PR of 15.91m (52-02.50) to finish 11th at the regional meet to punch her ticket. Both Salukis rank back-to-back on SIU's all-time list in the event in fifth and sixth place, respectfully.