See ex-Burke HS star Raven Saunders’ NCAA-winning throw

Ex-Burke High School standout Raven Saunders won the NCAA outdoor shot put title Thursday night in Eugene, Oregon. (Southern Illinois photo)

Raven Saunders was less than thrilled with her first five shot put throws at the NCAA outdoor track and field championships Thursday night.

With the competition in other events whirling around her in Eugene, Oregon, Saunders fouled on one throw and topped out at 57 feet and 3/4 of an inch, some three feet off her personal best.

“I was struggling to find the energy and the tunnel vision I needed,” Saunders said Friday. “Unlike at other meets, at the NCAAs there are a lot of other things going on, a lot of great performances going on around me. I needed to keep my mind straight and focus on what I was supposed to do.”

The former Burke High School standout found what she needed on her final throw, coming up with an effort of 60-2 1/2 to claim her second NCAA shot put title. She won the NCAA indoor title in March, giving her two NCAA championships for her freshman year at Southern Illinois.

She won her indoor title on her final throw, as well.

“I guess it’s a matter of crunch time,” she said. “That gets my adrenalin going and I have to focus in more. I try to clear my head so I don’t over-think it, as well.”

Saunders’ final throw broke her own school, Missouri Valley Conference and American Junior records.

Saunders’ teammate, DeAnna Price, won the NCAA title in the hammer throw Thursday, giving the Salukis two championships in throwing events.

Saunders will return to Eugene later this summer for the USA Junior and Senior track and field championships, both in July.