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Saluki Track and Field

SIU's Price adds instructor to long list of titles

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CARBONDALE — DeAnna Price arrived in Carbondale just after 4 a.m. from New York City, and had one of her best practices of the summer before turning her attention to about 37 eager throwers Saturday.

Price, a two-time NCAA champion in the hammer throw who serves as a volunteer assistant coach at SIU, appeared at a throws clinic Saturday. The 24-year-old still hasn't slowed down much after finishing eighth in the world at the Rio Olympics last year. She got engaged last November to coach J.C. Lambert, toured with the TrackTown USA series' San Francisco Surge the last three weeks in a team competition, and qualified for next month's IAAF world championships in London.

Coupled with a serious knee injury as a sophomore, Price has quite a story to tell.

"Any time we have recruits in, I want to meet them, because I want them to know my story, and how it worked out for me," Price said. "I came in as a 139 (foot) discus thrower. I threw the shot put. They recruited me in, I think it was at 39 feet. I wasn't great, and I had full-ride offers for softball and track, and I decided to take the partial scholarship at SIU because I knew something was here.

"We don't have all the bells and whistles. We're a mid-major school, which is fine, but we're not Alabama, or UCLA, with all these gifts. Here we work hard. We are the underdogs, because we come up, and, we bite ya. That's what we're known for."

Teaching was an adjustment, she said, after just being a competitor for so long. She wanted to be helpful, but not abrasive, with the pupils Saturday. Helping the college kids is different, she said, considering she has the SIU school record and the NCAA outdoor championships record in the hammer throw.

"The college kids, I have no problem telling them they're wrong," she said. "I threw 53 feet in the shot put, and we have one girl who threw 56. I just say 'I'm still an Olympian.'"

Price won the hammer throw at a meet in Edwardsville last year with a school-record toss of 72.66 meters. It broke the American collegiate record and gave her one of the top marks in the world. She broke her own NCAA outdoor championships record with a heave of 71.53 meters in Eugene, Oregon, last year to win the national title, and has continued to improve those marks.

In May, she threw a personal-best 74.40 meters in the hammer, the seventh-best toss by an American this year. In March, she would have won the U.S. indoor championship in the weight throw if former teammate Gwen Berry hadn't set a world record in the event. The year has not been all ups for Price, however.

Doctors found a lump in her breast that they thought may be cancerous — her family has a history — and her mother became very ill, she said. Price's mother has improved, and doctors believe the lump is a benign tumor that she plans to have removed after the world championships.

"I came off of a high of placing third at championships, and making it to London," Price said. "Mom's healthier now, and I'm OK. I'm good. I'm just going to wait until after the season to get it removed, and we'll see where it all goes."

todd.hefferman@thesouthern.com

618-351-5087

On Twitter: @THefferman

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