CARBONDALE — SIU Director of Track and Field/Cross Country Rosalind Joseph announced the signing of 14 student-athletes to National Letters of Intent.
"Every last one of these student-athletes are coming off of an unprecedented spring season," said Joseph. "They've had to show extreme resiliency and patience. Some have had to make some tough decisions regarding their transition to Southern Illinois University."
SIU signed the 14 student-athletes out of seven different states, including five from the state of Illinois. For the second-straight year, the Salukis signed one international student-athlete.
Miracle Berry will compete in the sprints group for SIU. As part of the 4x400m relay team at Warren Central High School in Indianapolis, she finished third at the 2019 IHSAA Girls State Track and Field Championships with a time of 3:47.16, breaking her school's record in the process. Personal-bests: 60m (8.24), 200m (25.36), 4x100 (47.72), 4x400m (3:47.16).
Kaitlyn Burson joins the Salukis as a thrower and will look to continue the long tradition of standout competitors in that event group. The Willard, Missouri native was a bronze medalist at the 2019 MSHSAA Class 4 State Championship in the shot put with a mark of 40'-8" (12.45m). Burson will also compete in the weight and hammer for SIU. Personal-bests: Shot put (12.70m), discus (41.98m), javelin (33.9m).
Jade Caesar will give the Salukis some much needed depth in the sprints and hurdles group after a successful high school career at Cypress Woods in Houston, Texas. She earned 2019 Academic All-District honors off the track and was a runner-up in the 300m hurdles at the 2019 District 14-6A Championships with a time of 44.79 seconds. Caesar also competed for Northwest Flyers Track Club, where she last competed at the 2019 USATF Region 12 Junior Olympic Championships in the 100m hurdles and 400m hurdles. Personal-bests: 400m (1:03.72), 60m hurdles (10.76), 100m hurdles (16.79), 400m hurdles (1:08.66).
Akira Custer doesn't have to travel too far, as the sprinter's roots are right here in Carbondale. In 2019, Custer finished second and third in the 4x100m relay and 4x400m relay at the IHSA 2A Girls State Track and Field Championships. Personal-bests: 60m (8.37), 100m (13.31), 200m (25.61), 400m (58.15), 4x100 (47.51), 4x200 (1:43.60), 4x400 (3:59.70).
A sprinter out of Louisville, Kentucky, Iaunia Pointer brings a championship pedigree to the program. At the 2019 KHSAA Class 3A State Track Meet, Pointer took home two gold medals after her first-place finish in the 200m (24.39) and 400m (57.09). Additionally, she finished third in the 100m (11.95), finishing the meet as the only athlete from Sacred Heart Academy to earn three medals on the day. Personal-bests: 60m (7.74), 100m (11.95), 200m (24.39), 400m (56.87).
Brittany Brown is coming to SIU by way of Jamaica and will be joining the Salukis as a sprinter. Brown joins Jelle De Jong (Netherlands) and Cory Sherrod (Bahamas) as Salukis with international roots.
Hailing from nearby Du Quoin, Dasani Edwards will add depth to the jumps group for the Salukis. Edwards is the reigning 2019 IHSA Class 1A state long jump champion, which paved the way to being named the 2019 Southern Illinoisan Track Athlete of the Year. In 2018, he established himself as a sprinter and broke the school record in the 4x100m before going on to finish the season as the Class 1A state runner-up in the tripe jump. Personal-bests: Triple jump (44'-11"), long jump (23'-5"), 60m (7.35), 100m (11.30), 4x100 (43.06)
Uriah Guthrie will compete for Saluki cross country coach Kevin Cataldo, in addition to running distance for the track and field team. At Eastern High School in Indiana in 2019, Guthrie was a state qualifier in both cross country and track in the 3200m. Personal-bests: 1600m (4:35.18), 3200m (9:39.43), 5000m - XC (15:48).
Willie Johnson will be joining the Salukis as a sprinter after completing one of the most outstanding high school careers someone could have. Johnson has been to his fair share of big-time meets, including the 2019 New Balance National Indoor Championships in New York City where he won the 400m title (48.39) and helped bring home titles in the 4x200 (1:30.00) and 4x400 meter relays (3:22.09). In addition to his success at the national meet, Johnson also was the 2019 St. Clair County champion, as well being crowned champion at sectionals and state. He was named as the top returning male 400m runner in the state of Illinois for his senior season. Personal-bests: 400m (47.34), 800m (1:58.40), 4x100 (41.81), 4x200 (1:30.00), 4x400 (3:18.13), 4x800 (8:22.62), SMR 1600m (3:47.56),
Hailing out of Cantrall, Noah McIntyre hopes to bring a successful high school career to Southern Illinois. In 2019, McIntyre won the 1A Top Times 1600m championship, which he followed up with a 1A outdoor runner-up state championship in the 1600m. The two-time All-State track and cross country athlete won back-to-back "Small School Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year" awards, which was named by the State Journal-Register. Personal-bests: 2.85 mile - XC (16:09.9), 2.9 mile - XC (15:36.3), 3 mile - XC (15:01.9), 3200m - XC (10:23.7), 5000m - XC (16:48.0), 400m (54.35), 800m (2:00.20), 1600m (4:25.58), 3200m (9:56.20), SMR 1600m (3:50.94), 4x400 (3:38.12), 4x800 (8:39.25).
Heading north out of the sunshine state, Will Raoul will join SIU as a thrower. At North Miami, Raoul captured 10 event titles throughout his career. Most recently, Raoul took home first in the shot put and discus at the GMAC Qualifier and Championship (3/13/20) with marks of 57'-2" (shot put) and 145'-6" (discus). Personal-bests: Shot put (57'-11"), discus (183'-5").
A two-time All-State selection in cross country and track, Ethan Senti won all but three of his cross country meets during his senior campaign at Zeeland West High School in West Olive, Michigan. Senti will join the Saluki cross country team in addition to joining the distance runners during track and field season. Senti joins a class of cross country/distance runners that have plenty of talent to bring a Missouri Valley Conference title back to Carbondale. Personal-bests: 1600m (4:24.78), mile (4:37.99), 3200m (9:25.65), 4x800 (7:56.98), DMR (10:45.11), 4x3200 (42:00.18), 5000m - XC (15:36.7).
Dawson Smith will also join Coach Cataldo and the cross country team this fall in addition to running distance for Coach Joseph in the winter and spring months. In 2019, Smith was a 1A State cross country runner up. Over his career at Rock Falls, Smith earned All-State cross country honors three times in addition to being named All-State in track twice. Personal-bests: 400m (56.25), 800m (2:06.18), 1600m (4:28.67), 3200m (9:25.64), 4x400 (3:40.42) 4x800 (8:40.40), DMR (11:19.62), high jump (5'-2"), 2.85 mile - XC (14:13.1), 2.9 mile - XC (14:51.6), 3 mile - XC (14:44.2), 3.02 mile (16:14.5).
A transfer out of Central Michigan University, Cole Targgart joins the Salukis as a redshirt sophomore after debuting as a thrower for the Chippewas during the 2019-20 indoor season. During his lone indoor campaign, Targgart set personal-bests of 53'-1" (16.20m) in the shot put and 53'-5" (16.30m) in the weight throw, in addition to earning Academic All-MAC honors. Personal-bests: Shot put (16.20m), weight throw (16.30m).