CARBONDALE — The SIU women held off Indiana State for first place, and Illinois edged the SIU men in a close battle as the track and field Salukis ended the two-day Bill Cornell Spring Classic on a soggy day Saturday at the Lew Hartzog Track and Field Complex.
The SIU women won their side of the meet with 178 team points, beating out the Sycamores by 10.5. It was a neck-and-neck battle between the programs throughout the day, as Indiana State held a 10-point lead (77.5-67) after six events, but SIU whittled down to 2.5 (123.5-121) after 12.
“I think we had a really good meet,” said SIU track and field coach Connie Price-Smith. “I was pleased with the results and I was pleased to see the women win and the men compete well.”
Junior Kenya Culmer won the high jump (1.73m) and triple jump (12.33m), the only SIU female athlete to win multiple events. Sophomore Amiris Warren took home the 100-meter dash title (11.97) and placed fourth in the 200-meter dash (25.13), while SIU took three of the top four spots in the hammer throw.
“After practicing so hard for so long, coming out and winning both events gives me great pleasure to know I have succeeded,” Culmer said. “I am very happy and couldn’t have asked for anything better.”
On the men’s side, SIU faced a similarly tough challenge from Big Ten foe Illinois, which trailed the Salukis by just a point (128-127) after 16 events. The Illini took the top five spots of the pole vault and had several top-three finishes.
“It would have been nice to have a win against Illinois,” Price-Smith said. “There were some people who didn’t compete because of injuries and I think (the score) was close enough.”
SIU star J.C. Lambert won the discus (50.86m) and hammer throw (65.91m), while freshman teammate Josh Freeman finished third (48.17m) in the discus and won the shot put (18.09m).
“I got the (personal record) in the discus (Friday) by three feet and I had a three-foot PR in the shot put,” Freeman said. “I’ve got to keep hitting it hard in the weight room and make sure every throw counts when we come out here during the week.”
The Spring Classic featured 13 Division I programs other than SIU, with a total of 653 athletes participating. In addition to Indiana State, Missouri Valley Conference schools Bradley and Illinois State also participated in the event.
SIU will next participate in the Joey Haines Invitational on Saturday in Cape Girardeau, Mo., before traveling to Oxford, Miss., for the Ole Miss Invitational on April 13.
“I think (the athletes) took great pride in having a meet the caliber we did at their own facility,” Price-Smith said. “It was a showcase for them and they responded well to that.”
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