WICHITA, Kan. — The Southern Illinois University men's and women's track and field teams finished third at the 2017 Missouri Valley Conference Outdoor Championships, hosted by Wichita State University.
The Saluki men scored 143.5 points, finishing behind Northern Iowa (166) and Wichita State (181.5). The Shockers also claimed the team title on the women's side, as they scored a MVC Championship record 226 points. Illinois State finished second with 137 points, while Southern took third with 107 points, moving past Indiana State in the meet's final event, the 4x400 relay.
"I'm really proud of the way our team came together and cheered each other on throughout a hard-fought championship," said SIU track coach Kathleen Raske. "We knew we were going to have to be perfect and then some to go after the team title, and some things didn't quite go our way but we believed and we went out and competed."
Kyle Landon won his ninth MVC title Sunday, as he jumped a lifetime-best 51-6.25 to win the triple jump. Landon accounted for 30 of SIU's 143.5 points. He won his eighth high jump title on Saturday and finished second in the long jump. He also added two points with a seventh-place finish in the javelin despite having never competed in the event before Friday's competition.
The five-time All-American was honored as both the MVC Most Outstanding Male Field Athlete and the Most Valuable Athlete. He became the second Saluki, and the sixth athlete in Valley history, to earn a share of the Most Valuable Athlete award at the conference's indoor and outdoor championships. Meanwhile, Landon joins Illinois State's Tom Barrett as the only athletes in Valley history to sweep the Most Outstanding Male Field Athlete in back-to-back seasons.
Freya Block also claimed a share of the MVC Most Outstanding Female Field Athlete award, giving Southern its third-straight sweep of the outdoor championship field awards. Block won her first career MVC hammer throw title with the 12th-best toss in the NCAA at 211-3.
In addition to Landon's win in the triple jump, SIU crowned five more champions on Sunday.
The Saluki women swept the MVC relay events for the first time since 1989. Southern's 4x100 relay team of Mystique Thompson, Shafiqua Maloney, Tyjuana Eason and Bri'Anna Branch broke the MVC Outdoor Championship meet record of 44.71 with their winning time of 44.30. It is the 10th-fastest time in the NCAA West Region.
Not to be outdone, Southern's 4x400 relay team of Alicia Reed, Genesis Ewell, Thompson and Branch won the event with a season-best time of 3:40.30. It gave SIU its first 4x400 relay title since 1996.
Warren Hazel successfully defended his outdoor 400 meter crown. He crossed the finish line in 46.38, and later took fifth in the 200 meters. Hazel also helped SIU's 4x100 and 4x400 relays post season-best times. The 4x100 relay took fourth with a time of 41.09, and the 4x400 scored two points with a seventh-place showing.
Josh Maier, who was the runner-up in Friday's 10-kilometer race, won his first MVC title in the 5,000 meters Sunday. He ran at the front of the pack for much of the race before making his move during the race's final two laps, going from third to first and never looking back. He ran 14:45.62 to win Southern's first MVC 5,000 meters title since 2011.
Maier also earned the MVC Elite 18 award for the second-straight season. The award is given to the highest all-conference finisher with the highest GPA. He currently maintains a 4.0 GPA and marks the fifth Saluki male to win the award in the past seven years.
Chad Weaver won the pole vault with a third-attempt clearance of 16-9.5. In doing so, he became the 10th Saluki, and the 24th vaulter in Valley history, to win both the MVC indoor and outdoor pole vault titles.
Southern scored 16 points in the 100 meters Branch ran 11.47 to earn runner-up honors, Eason followed in fourth with a time of 11.53, and Thompson chipped with a sixth place finish.
It was Eason's turn to edge out Branch in the 200 meters, as she ran a personal-best 23.66 to claim runner-up honors. Branch, meanwhile, earned All-MVC in the event by taking third at 23.81.
In the 400 meters, Maloney ran a lifetime-best 54.25 to take second. She led for much of the race, but couldn't hold off a late push by Illinois State's Amanda McClain.
Fraquan Gaines set a huge personal-best in the triple jump to earn runner-up honors. Gaines jumped 49-5.5 on his second attempt, which was more than two feet better than his previous personal-best.
Also in the triple jump, Kezia Martin earned the third All-MVC finish of her career by jumping a season-best 40-9.5. Freshman Emani James added three points with a sixth place finish.
Ricky Hurley notched his second All-MVC finish of the meet, taking third in the discus. Hurley threw 179-0 on his first attempt. He was joined by Kyle Kling and Isaac Ingram. Kling finished sixth while Ingram threw a personal-best by almost seven meters to place seventh.
Other scoring performances for the Salukis included Nikki Freeman and Alexis Roberson finishing fifth and sixth in the discus, while Reed added a team point with her eighth place finish in the 400m. Lucas Horton placed fourth in a tough 800 meters in which the top-three finishers will all run at the NCAA West Regional while Chase Black added 3.5 points after he tied for fifth in the pole vault.
Those Salukis that have qualified for the NCAA West Regional will compete on May 25-27 in Austin, Texas.