Women Picked Fifth, Men Eighth in Valley Polls; Begin Season at Western Illinois
Sept. 1, 2005
NORMAL, Ill. - The Illinois State women's cross country team was picked to finish fifth in the Valley cross country poll, while the men were picked to finish eighth, two spots higher than last season, as released by the Missouri Valley Conference office this afternoon.
Wichita State and Southern Illinois tied for first place in the women's poll with 93 points, while Missouri State was picked third, Indiana State fourth and Illinois State fifth. Rounding out the top ten were UNI, Bradley, Drake, Creighton and Evansville. For the men, Indiana State received nine first place votes, following the Sycamores was Southern Illinois, Missouri State, Drake, Wichita State, Evansville, Bradley, Illinois State, UNI and Creighton.
In addition to the polls coming out, the cross country team members have other things on their minds as they prepare for the first meet of the season, Saturday Sept. 3. The Redbirds will travel to Macomb, Ill. to compete in the Early Bird Invitational hosted by Western Illinois.
Head cross country coach Chris Bailey was not surprised by the results of the poll and feels they are very realistic.
"I'm really excited about this cross country season," said Bailey. "The men were picked 10th last year. We have a lot to prove and have to work hard. We didn't add anyone this year that would have made us a conference contender, but I think we're deserving of our pick. It's not something to be proud of, and hopefully the guys will realize they can do better than that and push hard to improve. The women, however, are young and we lost several seniors from last season, but I think we can do better than fifth with the freshman we've added to the team."
Bailey is excited to get the season underway and find out where his team stands this early in the season.
"The meet this weekend is going to be low key and a good way to start off the season," said Bailey. "The distance is shorter than we are used to running, but it will be a good gauge to see where we're at and how everyone worked over the summer."
Teams competing this weekend include Western Illinois, Illinois College and Monmouth College. The women's race is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. while the men's race will start at 10:45 a.m. Typically the women run a 5K and the men compete in the 8K, but this weekend the women will run a 4K and the men a 6K.
With the loss of four seniors from last year's women's squad, captain Betsy McDonald will be looked upon to lead this young group of runners. Bailey has been very impressed so far this season during practice with two new freshmen, Kim Smudde and Kathleen Thompson, both of Geneva, Ill.
"Kim and Kathleen have been very impressive thus far in practice," said Bailey. "They are looking really strong and running right up in the front every practice with the older girls, which is good to see. We're going to be a good five or six strong on the women's side and I'm excited to see what they can do."
On the men's side, Jeremy Doherty, one of the top runners on the team will sit out this weekend to nurse an injury.
"For the men, we're going to start out a little slow," said Bailey. "We're nursing some injuries and a couple of the guys have been sick the past few days. But it's good that this is happening now and not during the Valley Championships."
However, Bailey has seen some good things from the men's team.
"Freshman Mike Richardson is looking strong, and Brian Glaza has been running some good work-outs," said Bailey. "Dan Tripp has been running well and the guys have been doing what we expect. But until we get out there and race we really won't know."