October 01, 2008

Ultimate Saluki Challenge set for this weekend

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Do they have what it takes? Can they eat the inedible? Solve the unsolvable? Do the seemingly impossible?

Twenty Southern Illinois University Carbondale students will see if they have the agility, the people skills, the athletic prowess, the problem-solving techniques and the plain old stamina to come out on top. They’ll see if they can not only withstand 52 hours “stranded” with minimal supplies on the campus lake beach and other locales, but if they can somehow be the last man or woman standing when it’s all over.

The Ultimate Saluki Challenge makes its third annual appearance Friday through Sunday, Oct. 3-5 at SIUC. Just like contestants on the popular CBS television show “Survivor,” the SIUC competitors will prove what they’re made of, Saluki-style, as they strive for the big prize. And, the public can come see it all unfold. Mike Skupin, of CBS’ reality series “Survivor-Australia” fame, will even be on hand.

Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and camera crews may cover any of the numerous challenges and tribal councils leading up to and including the final tribal council at 7 p.m., Oct. 5. Featuring Mike Skupin of television’s “Survivor-Australia,” the final council vote will be in the aerobics room at the SIUC Student Recreation Center.

The Ultimate Saluki contestants will be busy throughout the weekend, working together with their fellow tribe members to carve out their existence in the “wild.” Contestants will test their skills in the air, across the water and on terra firma. They’ll endeavor to overcome the problems, solve the puzzles and demonstrate their mental, physical, and even cast-iron stomach strength at a variety of locales on campus and the vicinity. Frequently they’ll gather for challenges, where winners earn rewards to improve their meager outdoor existence. There will be individual challenges as well, with winners earning immunity from elimination.

The exact nature of the challenges is a closely held secret.

“This is the real thing!” said Sally Wright, assistant director for SIUC Recreational Sports and Services.

After most challenges, just as in the television version of the game, the contestants will convene in a tribal council, where a secret ballot vote eliminates competitors one at a time. Throughout the course of the weekend, participants will also have a chance to win numerous prizes. And, when the final ballots are tabulated Sunday night, the 2008 Ultimate Saluki will claim all sorts of prizes, including a $500 book scholarship and two tickets and lodging for the Missouri Valley Conference basketball tournament in March 2009.

“The challenges have a good element of logic, skill and physical aptitude this year,” said Lynne Thompson-Cundiff, assistant director of fitness for Recreational Sports and Services. She said senior recreation major Josh Sheehan, a 2007 Ultimate Saluki Challenge contestant from Crystal Lake, contributed his hard-earned personal input into efforts to create just the right challenges for the 2008 competition. Just as the challenges are each unique, the 2008 contestants are a varied group, similar only in that all are SIUC students.

“They were picked because they are a very diverse group,” said Wright. She also noted that while the competition is always quite hard-fought and intense, past contestants universally describe the Ultimate Saluki Challenge as a lot of fun and a special bonding experience.

Contestants for the 2008 Ultimate Saluki Challenge, listed by hometown, are:


Agoura Hills: Johnkyle Ratkovich, a freshman with an undeclared major. The son of Beatrice and John Ratkovich, he plans to continue his education by earning a master’s degree.

Alton: Randy Lane, a sophomore political science major. The son of Michele Lane, he plans to go on to law school and become a corporate lawyer.

Bartlett: Sean Christian Olsta, a senior majoring in radio-television. The son of Jim and Julia Olsta, he plans to complete his bachelor’s degree in May 2009 and go into the television news business. He intends to work as a news reporter or producer initially for a local network affiliate and hopes to later work for one of the major network television stations.

Chicago: Deonta Devon Cole, freshman pre-medicine major. The daughter of Austin Wells and Carolyn Cole, she plans to earn her bachelor’s degree and continue her education beyond to become a general surgeon.

Jeré L. Mitchell, a sophomore sociology/paralegal major. The daughter of Joyce

Mitchell, she plans to attend graduate school. Her career plans are undecided.

Eboni Shavonne Mahone, a freshman with an undecided major. The daughter of Catherine Mahone and Charles Mahon, she’s considering a number of majors including forensic science and theater arts. She would like to someday became a movie writer and direct her own films.

Coulterville: Jimmy Lee Gardner, a freshman radio/television broadcasting major. The son of Brandy and Jim Gardner, his goal is to become a television broadcaster and travel the world. He also hopes to become a contestant on the CBS “Survivor” television show.

Georgetown: Brandon Allen Michael Roach, a sophomore cinema/photography major. The son of Neil Roach and Suszanne Ingram, he plans to complete his degree and then move west to work in the film industry. He hopes to write, act and direct in movies.

Herrin: Joseph Cochran, a senior majoring in administration of justice and foreign language international trade. The son of Pamela Cochran, he’s working on dual degrees and on minors in Mandarin Chinese and East Asian Civilization. Cochran intends to then continue his education in law school and hopes to work for the federal government.

Moline: Margaret Marziye Anderson, a junior forestry major. The daughter of Loren and Joyce Anderson, she plans to study abroad after completing her bachelor’s degree and then work on her master’s degree. Her goal is a career working outdoors, possibly involving travel.

Mt. Vernon/Chester: Jaclyn Smith, a graduate student in special education. Smith earned her bachelor’s in social work at SIUC and is now working on her master’s. Her future “dream job” is to be a headmaster at a prestigious private school.

Naperville: Jason Alan Carey, a senior recreation major. The son of Mark and Sheila Carey, he ‘s also working on a minor in marketing and psychology. He anticipates earning his master’s at Clemson University and then becoming an air traffic controller. His goal is to eventually operate his own business.

Newton: Ryan Bass, a junior majoring in agribusiness and economics. The son of Roger and Carole Bass, his goal after earning his bachelor’s degree is to obtain a job with a major agriculture company.

Oak Lawn: Michael Wilson, a freshman with an undeclared major. The son of Mike and Kathy Wilson, he hopes to earn his bachelor’s in administration of justice and wants to then get involved with law enforcement/conservation. He hopes to be a game warden or police officer.

Orland Park: Ryan Siriann, a freshman mechanical engineering major. The son of Rick and Kim Siriann, he hopes to have a successful career doing something he loves, preferably in alternate fuels or future car designs.

Richton Park: Davie Lamont, a freshman administration of justice major. The son of LaRhonda Malone, he plans to complete his bachelor’s and then earn his master’s in accounting. His goal is a career with the FBI.

Wheaton: Tera Ashley Fredrick, a freshman who will soon be a food and nutrition major. The daughter of Mike and Cathy Fredrick, she plans to complete her degree and get an internship. Her career plans are undetermined.

Wheeling: Kevin Ruby, a freshman undeclared major. The son of Donald Ruby and Chantana Ruby, he hopes to enter the radiologic science program at SIUC and complete a degree and then move someplace with a warmer climate, perhaps California or Florida.

Woodridge: Joe Janowiak Jr., a senior aviation technologies major. The son of Joe and Patti Janowiak, he plans to complete his bachelor’s degree with specialization in advanced maintenance and license as airframe and powerplant mechanic. He plans a career working for a commercial or regional airline.


Hampton/Virginia Beach: Christopher Oliver, a sophomore cinema and photography/cinema and radio-television-television production major working on a classic civilization minor. The son of Jennifer Oliver and stepson of Jared Jordan, he intends to complete his double major and continue in graduate school at SIUC or in California or Virginia Beach. His goal is a career in the movie and television business, preferably as a movie director and/or television producer.

The challenges are in several locales, as noted in the complete schedule. The tribal councils, with the exception of the final council, will be at the pavilion near the campus beach when the preceding challenge is on campus, and at the chapel near Camp 1 when the preceding challenge is at Touch of Nature Environmental Center. The schedule for the challenges and tribal councils includes:

Friday, Oct. 3

• 3 p.m. -- Ultimate Saluki Challenge kick-off at campus lake beach. The real Saluki dogs will be on hand for the festivities.

• 3:30 to 4 p.m. -- Challenge at campus beach.

• 4 to 4:30 p.m. -- Tribe Flags at campus beach

• 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. -- Challenge at campus beach

• 6 to 7 p.m. -- Challenge at campus beach boat dock

• 7:30 p.m. -- Tribal council

• 8:15 to 9:15 p.m. -- Challenge at boat dock

• 9:30 p.m. -- Tribal council

• 10:30 to 11:30 p.m. -- Challenge at the lighted playing fields south of the SIU Arena tennis courts.

• 11:45 p.m. -- Tribal council

Saturday, Oct. 4

• 12:30 to 1:15 a.m. -- Challenge at campus beach

• 1:30 a.m. -- Tribal council

• 6:30 to 7:30 a.m.- Challenge at Touch of Nature Environmental Center, located about eight miles south of Carbondale on Giant City Road.

• 7:45 a.m. -- Tribal council

• 8:30 to 9 a.m. -- Challenge, Touch of Nature

• 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. -- Challenge, Touch of Nature

• Noon -- Tribal council

• 1 to 2 p.m. -- Challenge, Touch of Nature

• 2:30 p.m. -- Tribal council

• 3:30 to 4 p.m. -- Challenge, Touch of Nature

• 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. -- Two challenges at Touch of Nature

• 7 p.m. -- Tribal council

• 9 to 9:30 p.m. -- Challenge at Student Recreation Center

• 10 to 10:45 p.m. -- Challenge, Student Recreation Center

• 11 p.m. -- Tribal Council

Sunday, Oct. 5

• Midnight to 12:30 a.m. -- Challenge at campus beach

• 12:30 a.m. -- Tribal council

• 7:30 to 8:15 a.m. -- Challenge, campus beach

• 8:30 a.m. -- Tribal council

• 9:30 to 10:15 a.m. -- Challenge at McAndrew Stadium

• 10:45 a.m. -- Tribal council

• Noon to 1 p.m. -- Final challenge at campus lake boat dock

• 1:15 p.m. -- Tribal council

• 7 p.m. -- Final tribal council in the aerobics room at the Student Recreation Center. It’s time for the final vote determining the 2008 Ultimate Saluki and Mike Skupin will emcee.

For more information about the Ultimate Saluki Challenge, including video from last year’s contest, look online at www.reccenter.siu.edu. Also, check out www.myspace.com/ultimatesalukichallenge or the Facebook group “2008 Ultimate Saluki Challenge.”