Women Tabbed to Repeat as Cross Country Champions
Ryan Rutherford
Ryan Rutherford

Oct. 23, 2012

MVC Championship Central

ST. LOUIS - After winning last year's Missouri Valley Conference Cross Country Championship and being this year's preseason favorite, the Illinois State women's team has been picked to repeat, when the Redbirds play host to the 2012 Valley Championships at the Illinois State Cross Country Course at the Weibring Golf Club.

The women's team received a total of 96 points, tallying six first-place votes. The Redbird trio of Rachael Brewer, Elise Sigg and Kelly McShea will pace the team, as they hold three of the top-ten 5,000-meter times in the Valley. Brewer holds the second-fastest time of 17:22, Sigg has the sixth slot with a time of 17:49, while McShea holds the ninth-fastest time of 18:06.

Behind the Redbirds, Wichita State came in second in the poll with 86 points and three first-place votes, while Bradley and Southern Illinois tied for third, rounding out the top-three with 75 points. The Shockers' Aliphine Tuliamuk is the defending individual champion and is the favorite to repeat this year, as she holds the fastest time in the Valley at the 5,000-meter distance by 21 seconds (17:01).

On the men's side, Illinois State was picked to finish seventh, tallying 27 points. Sophomore Ryan Rutherford has been the leader of this young flock since his 13th-place finish at the Valley Championships a year ago, and has been the top performer for the team thus far this year. His time of 24:25 at the 8,000-meter distance is the fifth-fastest time in the conference this season.

Saturday will mark exactly 11 years to the day since the Redbirds hosted its last Missouri Valley Conference Championship. The women's 5,000-meter race is slated for a10:30 a.m. start, with the men's 8,000-meter championship event to follow at 11:30 a.m.



The last time Illinois State hosted the conference championships, Percy Family Hall of Fame inductee Stacia Beste claimed the women's individual title by nine seconds, running a time of 17:38, earning all-conference and Athlete of the Year honors. She went on to finish third at the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships with a 20:51 performance in the 6,000-meter race, before running to a 41st-place finish at the NCAA Championships. She was the last Redbird to compete in the national meet.

On the men's side, Christian Goy, also a Hall of Fame inductee, was the first Redbird to cross the finishline in the men's 8,000-meter championship race, claiming the second position with a time of 24:52. The men's squad claimed second-place overall to Northern Iowa.

Since Illinois State hosted its last conference championships, the men's and women's teams have each won the team title once (M - 2002; W - 2011), and two Redbird men have claimed the individual title outright (Goy - 2002; Scott Krapf - 2009).

Across the Valley, Indiana State has claimed six team titles on the men's side, while Southern Illinois has claimed two. On the women's side, Wichita State has made a statement of dominance, winning six titles in a row from 2005-10. Prior to that, Missouri State had won four-straight titles from 2001-04.

The Illinois State Cross Country Course at the Weibring Golf Course should provide a lot of excitement, as the course is mainly flat with a few rolling hills, and turns in a lot of fast times. Weather permitting, it will be a great day to race, as the women's team looks to defend its conference title, a feat that hasn't been done since they won three-straight Gateway titles from 1982-84.

Fans wishing to follow the live action can do so on GoRedbirds.com and following the link for the MVC Cross Country Championship Central Page. Fans can also follow along via Twitter at @ISU_Track_XC and @ISURedbirds.

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