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Redhawks host track meet this weekend met
More than 500 athletes will compete in the Joey Haines Invitational
Southeast Missouri State track and field coach Eric Crumpecker again expects plenty of stellar competition for his program's annual outdoor meet.
The 29th annual Joey Haines Invitational will take place today and Saturday at the Abe Stuber Complex.
There will be only one event today, the hammer throw at 3:30 p.m. The bulk of the meet will be Saturday, with field events starting at 10 a.m., followed by running events at 11:30 a.m.
"It's always fun to be at home, competing in front of the home crowd, in your own environment," Crumpecker said. "We should have a strong meet, like we always do.
"We've got some very good teams coming in and every event should be real competitive."
More than 20 teams and 500 collegiate athletes will participate.
Among the squads entered are Memphis, SIU-Carbondale, SIU-Edwardsville, Arkansas State, Saint Louis University, Missouri State, Western Illinois, Arkansas State, Central Arkansas, Ohio Valley Conference rival Murray State and perennial Division II power Lincoln University.
SIU-Carbondale finished second in both the men's and women's divisions at the recent Missouri Valley Conference indoor meet. Last outdoor season, the Salukis women won the MVC title and the men were second.
Six NCAA Division I All-Americans will compete, four for SIU-Carbondale. One of them, Jeneva McCall, has the nation's best discus throw (177 feet, 2 inches) while ranking sixth nationally in the hammer throw and 18th in the shot put.
Also for SIU-Carbondale's women, Sasha Leeth ranks second nationally in the hammer (206-8) while Olga Ciura and Gwen Berry are in the top 25.
SIU-Carbondale's men feature Cody Doerflein, sixth nationally in the pole vault, along with Jake Dieters (11th in the discus) and J.C. Lambert (18th in the hammer).
Memphis is led by All-American Steffen Nerdal, an NCAA finalist in the hammer throw during the 2008 outdoor season, along with pole vaulter Karlis Pujats (ranked 16th).
Future OVC member SIU-Edwardsville has two athletes ranked in the top 25 nationally. Ben Bishop is seventh in the hammer and Kandise Thompson is 13th in the 400 meters.
Lincoln's women won this year's Division II indoor national title and feature numerous All-Americans, including 2008 Jamaica Olympian Semoy Hackett.
"A lot of these schools have very good programs," Crumpecker said. "SIU-Carbondale is probably the strongest. They've been really good in the Missouri Valley Conference."
Southeast won last year's women's championship, while Southeast's men were second behind SIU-Carbondale.
Southeast claimed four individual titles last year, with the lone returning champion being senior Ashley Brewer in the discus.
Redhawks senior Samantha Espiricueta, an NCAA qualifier in the javelin last year, ranks 16th nationally.
"We're going to try to do the best we can as a team, but we'll be sitting out a few people with injuries and that might hold us back," Crumpecker said. "But we'll give it our best shot."
Regardless of how Southeast fares in the team competition, Crumpecker believes area fans won't be disappointed.
"We're looking forward to an outstanding meet, very competitive," he said. "Hopefully people will come out and watch some really good track and field."
Groves to compete
Scott City High School graduate Loren Groves, a four-time All-American at Kansas State, will compete in today's hammer throw as an unattached athlete.
Groves, who completed her collegiate eligibility last year, is continuing to train with an eye on trying to qualify for the 2012 Olympics.