SIU's two outstanding track squads placed well at the University of Illinois' "Illini Open" meet in Champaign last Friday and Saturday.
The men's team finished second to the host Illini, but the Saluki women's team was even more outstanding, finishing with 147 first-place points to Illinois' 136.50.
Leading the way, as they did in 2017, were the fabulous Saluki sprinters. Individually, Tyjuana Eason clocked a third-best Saluki 200-meter dash time of 24.5 seconds for a first-place finish. Eason also took the 60-meter dash with a blazing 7.5 seconds.
Mystique Thompson was close behind Eason with a 7.53 in the 60. The Saluki women also cleaned up in the relay event. It was Thompson, Alicia Reed, Chrissa Harris and Shafiqua Maloney who combined to
beat second-place Illinois by three seconds in the 4 X 400 meter relay with a 3:52.55 time. Harris also blazed to a 1:33.94 600-meter run time.
In the jumps, SIU triple-jumper Ashanna Hodge took second in her specialty. Her 38 feet, 6.25 inches was a personal best in her first try at the event in real competition.
The ladies also took top honors in the weight events. Freshman A'veum Moore won the shot put with a toss of 47 feet, 7 inches. Niki Freeman threw 46 feet, 1.5 inches for a second-place finish. Alexis Roberson won the weight throw with a toss of 66 feet, 3 inches.
The Lady Salukis also had two great finishes in the pole vault and the high jump. Erin Diemer finished third in the vault with a height of 11 feet, 10 inches, and Kilee Hagerstrand took fifth in the high jump (5 feet, 1 inch).
The men's team scored 119.5 points to first-place U of I's 207. As usual, it was SIU's army of weight-throwers that led the way for them. The Dawgs scored an incredible 32 of 39 possible throwing-related points.
Eastern Illinois transfer junior Adam Kessler threw the shot 59 feet, 8.5 inches for first place, followed closely by senior Jared Kern's second-place toss of 58 feet, 10.75 inches.
But SIU's young throwers also added points. Former West Virginia state champ Ricky Hurley was third with 58 feet, 3.25 inches, and former Carbondale Terrier Illinois State champ Sam Sikon finished fourth at 55 feet, 6.25 inches.
Senior weight-thrower Isaac Ingram tossed the indoor equivalent of the hammer throw 68 feet to take that event. In the triple jump, newcomer Marcelus Fletcher hopped 46 feet, 10.25 inches to finish third in that
event. And new pole vaulter Cooper Jazo took the college event with a vault of 15 feet, 5.25 inches. His
teammate Jacob La Rocca also went that height for third. Usual top vaulter Chase Black did not
compete in the Illini event.
Usual 400-meter star Warren Hazel was tried out in a new event last weekend. He ran a blazing 1:20.23 in the 600-meter dash to win that event.
Finishing second at the open in the 60-meter high hurdles was SIU's Kevin Turner. He ran an 8.28-second time. The transfer is going to score some points in the upcoming MVC meet.
Finally, the young (three of four runners are freshmen) Saluki 4 X 400 meter relay team ran a 3:24.22 to take second in the meet to the Illini team.