Senior thrower Jeneva McCall became the national champion in the hammer throw as the SIU women’s track and field team placed 14th overall, the second-best finish in school history at the NCAA outdoor championship.
The Salukis had seven athletes compete for a chance to become a national champion in their events at the championships in Des Monies, Iowa.
McCall led the Salukis by scoring all 16 team points with her 1st place finish in the hammer with a throw of 225-3 which earned 10 points and a third place finish in the shot put with a throw of 57-11 for 6 points. McCall placed 10th in the discus with a toss of 177-4, but did not record points for the team.
Throwing coach John Smith said during her career McCall has set the standard for a three-event thrower, male or female, and will leave a lasting legacy at SIU.
“Fourteen time All-American, three-time national champion, three-time runner-up, no one has come close to that. She’s had by far the best collegiate career that has ever been through this place,” Smith said. “People take for granted how hard it is to go to a major meet and throw three events, she’s about the only one who’s ever done that… she’s the best three-event athlete in America right now.”
Despite her awards and accomplishments earned during her career, McCall remains motivated as she prepares for the Olympic Trials. McCall said she is her toughest critic and her inner drive keeps her motivated.
“I’m never satisfied… If you never get satisfied then you never stop,” McCall said. “For me, I’ve set impossible goals so I’m always fighting for those goals and those goals are beyond anyone’s imagination. Because of that, it gives me the drive I need to keep driving up.”
Only the top eight finishers earn points for their teams and the Salukis failed to have other point earned during the championships. Senior jumper Malaikah Love narrowly missed an opportunity for points as she placed tenth in the triple jump with a 57-11.75 leap. Freshman DeAnna Price also placed 10th in the hammer throw with a 204-02 toss. Junior Kim Fortney placed 16th in the shot put with a 53-01.75 throw — a personal best.
The Salukis had three athletes compete on the men’s side as well. Senior Cody Doerflein tied for 20th in the pole vault with a 16-10.75 vault. Sophomore Doug Palacious placed 21st in the triple jump with a 49-1.75 jump and junior Zach Dahleen set a personal best and new school record in the 1,500 meter with a time of 3:41.18, but did not advance past the preliminary round.
Two Salukis set personal bests during the meet despite not scoring points for the team, but coach Connie Price-Smith said the lack of points did not take away from solid performances.
“I was pleased with where the women placed, they did a good job, we had some outstanding performances. Even the one’s that didn’t make finals were great performances,” Price-Smith said.
Now that the season is over, McCall will prepare for the Olympic Trials that begin June 21 in Eugene, Ore.
Freshmen throwers Bradley Sauer (hammer), Sophia Lozano (hammer), DeAnna Price (hammer) and Curtis Wideman (hammer and discus) will compete Friday at the USATF Jr. Nationals in Austin, Texas. The meet is a qualifying competition for the World Junior Championships in Barcelona, Spain.
For athletes not preparing for Olympic competition, the summer is still a crucial time for developing skills Price-Smith said. While not every member of the track and field team is able to stay in Carbondale during the summer, Price-Smith said this is when a lot of growth is seen from athletes.
“When you get into the school year and into competition season there is only so much that you can do,” Price-Smith said. “But during the summer you can put money into the bank and build on a bigger base that will take you through the rest of the year.”