ISU Gears up for Valley Cross Country Championship Saturday
Oct. 31, 2008
NORMAL, Ill. - Picked to finish second and fourth, respectively, in the Missouri Valley Conference's Pre-Championship Coaches Poll, the Illinois State men's and women's cross country teams have spent the past week prepping for the State Farm MVC Cross Country Championships, held at the Missouri State cross country facility in Springfield, Mo., Saturday. The women's 5K race is set to take off at noon and will be followed by the men's 8K at 12:45 p.m.
The last time the Illinois State men's cross country team brought home a team title was in 2002, when it was led by individual champion Christian Goy. The Redbirds have won nine championship titles, which ranks as the third most in The Valley behind Drake and Southern Illinois which are tied with 11 team titles.
In the 26 years that the ISU women have competed in The Valley, the Redbird cross country team has captured championship titles five times. Wichita State owns the largest number of championship titles with eight, while Missouri State is tied with ISU for the second most. Although ISU has brought home a title five times, the last ISU team championship came in 1989.
The Redbirds finished as the runner-up at the State Farm MVC Championships a year ago, but with the strength of senior Mike Richardson, junior Scott Krapf and sophomore Matt Mroczynski, ISU holds three of the top-eight times recorded in The Valley this season over 8K, as the trio have each posted sub-25-minute times.
"We would love to have Scott, Mike and Matt finish in the top-five, but there is a lot of parity and a lot of good guys in our league, so certainly, we want three in the top-10," said Illinois State head cross country coach Jeff Bovee. "Really, the key to the guys' success is going to be what our fourth and fifth runners can do. We need all of our guys to finish in the top-15. Southern Illinois could potentially have five runners in the top-10, so we are going to have to win the matchups between SIU and Indiana State up front and on the back side. Those two teams have proven to have slightly stronger runners in the four and five position that what we have, so we need to be better there."
The Redbird women have a young squad that has been led by sophomores Jess Husted and Kirsten Lang throughout the season. The team has posted seven runners with times under the 19-minute mark in a 5K with just 39 seconds separating the Redbirds' top time of the season, 18:09 by Husted, and their No. 6 and 7 runners (18:48).
"I think that any of the women's teams that are in the top-five of the pre-championship poll could walk away with the trophy," said Bovee. "It is really going to come down to who performs on that day (Saturday). There are distinct differences between all of the teams, but the uniqueness about our team is that we have the deepest team and have eight strong runners. We are going to be pushing to get all eight in the top-20."