WICHITA, Kan. – The Shocker cross country teams return to action when they compete on Saturday in the 2013 MVC Cross Country Championships at the Blank Park Golf Course in Des Moines, Iowa. At 10:30 a.m., the men will run their 8K, and at 11:30 a.m., the women will run their 5K.
Going into the championships, the Shocker men are ranked fifth in the MVC Men’s Pre-Championship Poll, and the Shocker women are ranked fourth in the MVC Women’s Pre-Championship Poll.
Heading into this weekend’s action, WSU’s men are also ranked No. 14 in the USTFCCCA Men’s Midwest Region while the Shocker women are ranked No. 13 in the USTFCCCA Women’s Midwest Region.
Southern Illinois was picked to win the 2013 MVC Men’s Cross Country Championship, earning eight of nine first-place votes in the Men’s Cross Country Pre-Championship Poll. SIU is the defending men’s champion from last year, and also were this year’s preseason favorite.
The one other first-place vote in the 2013 Men’s Cross Country Pre-Championship Poll went to the Bradley. They were picked to finish second while Illinois State was picked to finish third.
Bradley is also picked to win the 2013 MVC Women’s Cross Country Championship, earning six of 10 first-place votes in the MVC Women’s Cross Country Pre-Championship Poll. The Braves will head into the weekend’s race as the highest ranked team of any Valley team, ranked fifth in the USTFCCCA Women’s Midwest Region.
Illinois State, who was picked to finish second, earned the other four first-place votes in the MVC Women’s Cross Country Pre-Championship Poll. SIU was picked to finish third.
Shocker head coach Kirk Hunter has been encouraged with his team’s workouts over the past two weeks.
“I’ve been encouraged with the last week and a half of workouts, the way they’ve been feeling, and looking,” Hunter said. “We’re going to have a couple of girls not run who would have been key for us, but we knew that coming into this week.
“The runners who are there, they seem to be doing well. Although anything can happen, I’m encouraged with what I’ve seen.”
In the men’s championship race, Hunter believes that SIU is the clear favorite to win it.
“I feel like SIU is the favorite,” Hunter said. “However, it’ll be close from second place through seventh place. People are discounting Northern Iowa although they ran well at the Bradley “Pink” Classic.
“I don’t think we can eliminate them as part of the picture. Similar to the women’s race, whichever team has the best five runners on that day will be second, and the finishes will go down the list from there.”
On the women’s side, all of the Valley cross country coaches including Hunter thinks the championships will come down to five teams.
“It’s a five team race with Bradley, SIU, Illinois State, us, and Loyola,” Hunter said. “Whoever has the best five runners that day is who will win it. SIU is on an upswing in relation to everyone else, and is really looking good.
“Never count out Illinois State, and Bradley is doing really well also. We hope we’re able to have a terrific day, put all the pieces together, and come out with the win.”
With this year’s MVC Cross Country Championships being in Des Moines, it will be a homecoming for junior Ebeissa Nyandwi. This will be the Des Moines native’s first race back in her hometown since transferring from Iowa Central Community College this past summer.
While at ICCC, Nyandwi was a NJCAA National Champion, and a NJCAA All-American. According to Hunter, she is very excited to run in her hometown city once again.
“She is extremely excited about running in Des Moines again,” Hunter said. “A lot of her family, and friends are coming out to watch. Samantha (Shukla), and her have been incredible in practice. They both made a big step forward at the Bradley meet.
“Since then, their training has been at a very high level. I’m excited to see how that plays out at the conference meet. Nyandwi will be excited to have her family and friends there. Their support could really help our team.”
At last year’s MVC Cross Country Championships, the Shocker men placed third while the Shocker women placed second for the second consecutive season.
Individually, former Shocker Aliphine Tuliamuk-Bolton won the women’s MVC Championship with a time of 16:58.35, winning her second straight MVC title. On the men’s side, current junior Sterling Spencer led the Shocker men with a 15th place finish in 25:06.
The Shocker men placed second (100 points) while the Shocker women placed fourth (131 points) in the Bradley “Pink” Classic. Sophomore Brady Johnson led the Shocker men with a second place finish (24:29) while Shukla led the Shocker women by placing seventh (21:12).
For more information on the Shocker cross country teams, visit goshockers.com.
--Wichita State University--