Olympian Stuart named to MVC 25-year anniversary team

BAHAMIAN two-time Olympic long jumper Bianca Stuart was among five Southern Illinois alumni named to the Women’s Field 25-year anniversary team in the Missouri Valley Conference.

The team, including DeAnna Price, Brittany Riley, Jeneva (McCall) Stevens and Amarchi Ukabam, was selected by a 25-person committee (two representatives from each MVC member institution and a panel of five voters from the conference office). The voting panel determined a “Top-10” from a list of 25 finalists.

Stuart, a 2009 graduate at SIU, earned two All-America honours and was a seven-time MVC champion in the jumps, including the only four-year sweep of the indoor long jump in conference history. At the 2009 MVC Indoor Championships, Stuart broke the meet record with her jump of 21-6.25, a record that still stands. She finished 16th in the long jump at the 2016 Omypics and 18th in the event at the 2012 games.

Price was a two-time national champion in the hammer throw and a four-time All-American. She had one of the most dominant senior seasons in collegiate hammer throw history, winning her second NCAA hammer throw title with a meet record heave of 234 feet, 8 inches. She later captured bronze at the US Olympic Trials to punch her ticket to the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

Her throw of 239-9 at the trials was the furthest all-conditions throw in collegiate history. The four-time MVC champion went on to finish eighth at the 2016 Olympics, the seventh time in SIU track and field history that a Saluki alum has finished top-8 at the Olympics.

Riley was a two-time NCAA champion in the weight throw and a six-time All-American. At the 2007 NCAA Indoor National Championships, Riley set a world-record in the weight throw with her toss of 83-10.25 en route to being named the NCAA’s Indoor National Athlete of the Year.

As a freshman, Riley broke the school record in the hammer throw to win the USA Track and Field Junior Championships. She advanced to the 2005 Pan American Junior Athletics Championships, winning a silver medal. A four-time MVC most outstanding field athlete, Riley’s name is all over the collegiate record books. She still holds the American Collegiate weight throw record and has eight of the top-10 marks in the event in NCAA history.

Stevens is one of the most decorated student-athletes in Saluki track and field history. She won three national titles, the most by an individual in the programme’s storied history, and was a three-time NCAA runner-up.

In 2012, the 13-time All-American won NCAA titles in both the weight and the hammer throw while also taking second in the indoor shot put. In doing so, Stevens was named the USTFCCCA Midwest Women’s Field Athlete of the Year, marking the first and only time that a student athlete from the Valley has earned the honour.

Professionally, Stevens became the first American woman to ever medal in the hammer throw in worldwide competition with her win in the event at the 2013 World University Games. She recently finished second in the shot put at the 2018 USATF Indoor Championships.

Ukabam, who transferred to SIU from Ohio State in 2004, won six All-American honours with the Salukis from 2004-06. She won MVC titles in the shot put, weight throw and discus in 2004 and set Valley records in the indoor shot put, weight throw and discus.

She went on to win a total of six MVC titles during her collegiate career and helped Southern win the 2005 MVC indoor team title, its first since 1989. Brittany Smith (Illinois State), Kylie Hutson (Indiana State), Felisha Johnson (Indiana State), Rachel Jansen (Northern Iowa) and Paige Knoodle (Northern Iowa) rounded out the 10-woman team.

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