March 14, 2013
By Tyler Wooten
CARBONDALE, IL - Since returning to his alma mater in 2004, Saluki throws coach John Smith has developed a steady flow of national-caliber throwers who have won 37 All-American awards, seven NCAA runner-up finishes and five national titles. To put those accomplishments in perspective, the last time a non-throwing Saluki was an NCAA runner-up or champion was in 1992 when Darrin Plab was the outdoor high jump champion.
The Salukis' latest throwing star is sophomore Bradley Sauer, a native of nearby Murphysboro, who finished 13th in the weight throw at the NCAA Indoor Championships last week.
Since he grew up only a short drive away, Sauer kept a close eye on Saluki throwers while he was in high school, and it was an easy decision to stay close to home in Carbondale.
"I watched SIU's program improve all throughout high school, and it feels great to be a part of that now," Sauer said.
The recruiting process actually worked out in reverse, according to Smith.
"No one said, `you need to come look at Brad Sauer.' He came to me," Smith recalled. "He came to my camp, we tried him on the hammer, and saw that he could throw the weight, too."
Bradley Sauer finished 13th in the weight throw at nationals last week.
The only national qualifier this season for Southern, Sauer topped out at 19.99m (65-07.00) at the national meet in Fayetteville, Ark., coming up just shy of All-American status.
"The first time at an NCAA meet, the failure rate is about 90 percent," Smith said. "I told him that's how these things work. Next time around, he's going to know what it takes. I compare it to coaching Connie (Price-Smith) in the Olympics -- You don't compete, you survive."
Smith is confident Sauer will excel on the national stage before his collegiate career is over.
"I think he's gonna be an NCAA champion before he's done," Smith said. "He'll do what J.C. Lambert missed by two inches. We're talking about what it's going to take to win this thing next year -- and that's very doable for him. I've taken people before that finished like he did and then the next year they were All-Americans."
"I'm very happy that the 2013 indoor season is over," Smith said. "In 2009, I didn't have any All-Americans and then 2010 was my best team ever. Basically, I think this team is a lot like that team. Next year, it's going to be a very powerful team if everyone keeps working and doing what they need to do. Next year, I'm going be taking a big group of people to nationals -- indoors and outdoors."