After seven years as an invitational, the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference will recognize track and field athletes this weekend at the conference's inaugural championship event. The 2017 SLIAC Track and Field Championship will be held in Greenville, Ill. and will be split over two days; Friday and Saturday. Friday's events will consist of the triple jump, discus throw, and the 10,000-meter run. The schedule is set for a 4 p.m. start. Saturday will feature the majority of the events and is set for a 10 a.m. start.
On the men's side, Greenville College is the heavy favorite, having won each of the previous invitationals. The Panthers strength comes from their track members. The Panthers hold three of the top times in short distance events this spring, with Andrew Sharp setting the pace in both the 400-meter and 800-meter races. Jeremiah Davis holds the top time in the 200-meter this year. The Panthers have also posted three of the top four times this year in the 100-meter dash. The Panthers also have the top times in the 110 hurdles (Jonah Peoples) and 400 hurdles (Treyvon Manning). The Panthers strength of their short distance runners shows in the relay events as well where the 4x100 team has nearly a full second over the next closest team this year and the 4x400 relay team holds over a four-second edge. The Greenville field portion is led by Mitchell Hooten, who has the top performances in both the discus and shot put this year across conference athletes.
The Greenville women's team captured last year's invitational title and in the same vein as the men's team will be led by their track performers. Chelsea Giles, who qualified for the NCAA Division III nationals last year, has put up the top time in the conference in both the 100-meter, 200-meter, and 400-meter events this spring.
Principia College is well known for their distance runners, with Zach Matthiesen (1500), Nate Richards (5000), and Shane Witters-Hicks (3000 steeplechase) posting the top conference times this spring. Geoffrey Hibbs should compete for the title in the javelin, where he holds a SLIAC best throw this spring of 56.00 meters. On the women's side, Deirdre Wright should compete for a title in the triple jump.
Eureka College's Brett Charlton competes in several events and is coming off a personal best performance last weekend in the in the long jump of 6.60 meters, the third best in the conference this spring. Charlton also holds his team's top time in the 100-meter dash. Cooper Elam returns after winning the pole vault at last year's meet and has a high of 3.85 meters this spring. Jhariana Floyd will be running for the Red Devils in the 100-meter and 200-meter events. Ashley Harfst could pick up points for the Red Devils in the discus, where she has the third longest throw this spring.
Fontbonne University's men's team will look to get their points from freshman Austin Lawrence. Lawrence appears on the conference's top performance list in five separate events. The Griffins women's team is led by freshman Raven Venegas. Venegas has set numerous program records this spring and ranks in the top five in the discus and hammer throw and has the top performance in the conference in the shot put.
Spalding University's top track performer is sophomore Daniel Kaiser. Kaiser will challenge for the 200-meter and 400-meter titles while also holding the fifth fastest time in the 100-meter dash this spring. Cameron Mitchell is the team's top field performer, ranking in the top five in the conference this year in both the shot put and discus, while also putting in the seventh-best hammer throw. Katie Suiters will look to accumulate points for the Golden Eagles in the javelin, hammer, discus, and shot put; where she ranks in the top five in the SLIAC in all four events.
Webster University' Caleb Clemons will look to battle for a title in track and field's premier event, the 100-meter dash. Clemons, a sophomore, has cut nearly a second and a half of his time at last year's invitational and turned in a SLIAC best time of 10.58 seconds this spring. He will also compete in the 200-meter event. In the hurdles, the Gorloks will look to Damon Fowler for points while Riley Flynn will hold down the longer events on the track. Coale Dolbert should challenge for a title in the high jump while NaMhar Bethea enters with the conference's top score in the pole vault. The Gorloks women's team has shown strength in the field events this spring. The Gorloks have the top performers in the long jump, triple jump, and javelin this spring. In addition, Holly Goergen has conference-best times in the 5,000-meter and 10,000-meter events while Meghan Illig holds top times in the 100-meter and 400-meter hurdles.
Westminster College will run Addison Conway in both the 100-meter and 200-meter races while Ryan Dyer will also compete in race events for the Blue Jays. Christopher Idleburg will try to gain some points on the field portion of events for his team. The women's team features two top distance runners in Shannon McCaul and Jessie Kuykendall. McCaul's performance in the 800-meters this spring is nearly five seconds faster than the next competitor. She also should compete for points int he 3000-meter steeplechase, where she has the second fastest time in the SLIAC. Kuykendall meanwhile has the fourth fastest time in the 1500-meter race, coming in at 5:06.93.