Freshman thrower DeAnna Price qualified for a spot on the IAAF World Junior team and the chance to compete in Barcelona, Spain against other top throwers in the world July 10-15.
Price qualified in hammer with a throw of 202-10 Saturday during the U.S. Track and Field Junior Nationals in Bloomington, Ind. Six athletes competed in the meet Friday through Sunday at the University of Indiana.
Heading into the competition, freshman thrower Sophie Lozano said the preparation for the Junior Nationals was the same as during the regular season; a combination of throwing and lifting six days a week. Even with the same intensity of training, the fact that the athletes did not have to worry about schoolwork and managing their schedules allowed for less stress while training, Lozano said.
Throws coach John Smith said the Junior Nationals meet was comparable to the NCAA regional based on the level of competition. He said the experience should help prepare his throwers for next season.
Price will compete with the World Junior team which consists of the top track and field athletes under 19 years old from all over the world who compete in 22 different events.
She came to SIU after a high school softball career where she was an all-state selection during her senior year in Missouri. Smith said Price was a relative newcomer to throwing.
Price said her success during her first year on campus was not what she imagined. After she turned down a full softball scholarship to attend SIU, Price called her first year a journey.
“I had a good feeling about coming to SIUC, it was pretty interesting, but I’ve never guessed I would have went this far this year,” she said.
Friday, the first day of the event, freshman thrower Bradley Sauer just missed the chance to earn a spot on the World Junior team in the men’s hammer throw by less than two feet.
Sauer placed fourth with a throw of 220-8 and is eligible to be an alternate on the team.
He said he was proud to have a chance to compete on the national level and was happy with his performance, despite being so close to qualifying.
“Two feet (short) it stings … but I feel satisfied with my performance and I feel like I gave it my all and ended on the best note that I could of,” Sauer said.
The first day of competition came to an end with freshman thrower Curtis Wideman, who placed 16th in the hammer throw with a 186-06 throw and ninth in the discus Sunday with a 178-04 throw. Lozano placed seventh in the women’s hammer throw with a 172-05 throw Saturday. Freshman Juan Carrera finished 12th in the men’s steeplechase 9:50.46 and Mobola Rotibi did not finish in the women’s 800-meter preliminaries.
Although he did not qualify for the World Junior team, Wideman said he was happy with the progress that he has made throughout the season. He went from not competing in the state finals in the discus during high school, to now being one of the top throwers in his age group.
“It feels amazing; it feels surreal that coach Smith took a chance on me … coming down here makes me want to work hard … and try to be one of the best athletes, possibly breaking a couple records and keep going to national meets,” Wideman said. “I’m happy with my progress but I’m never satisfied. I always feel that I can be better.”
Price is the first thrower to make the World Junior team under Smith. Price said while she wanted to close the gap between her and the first place thrower, she is eager to begin to train for the competition in Barcelona that begins in July.
“I have to work every single day and try to push myself to hit certain marks to make sure that I am able to perform at that high level meet with all of these great athletes from across the world,” Price said. “This is an extraordinary feeling right now, but I know I have to work every single day to get there and make the finals.”