Women finish first, men second at Saluki Cross Country Invitational

    Joe Byrne ran the 8K in 24:45.58 to win his third consecutive Saluki Invitational

    Joe Byrne ran the 8K in 24:45.58 to win his third consecutive Saluki Invitational

    Oct. 8, 2005

    Women's Saluki InvitationalResults
    Men's Saluki Invitational Results

    By Matt Crouch

    CARBONDALE, Ill. - After finishing runner-up at the Saluki Invitational the past two years, the women's cross country team took the next step up as five Salukis finished in the top 20, leading the team to victory in Saturday's 5K at the Saluki Invitational. The men's team was not able to three-peat as the Dawgs finished runner-up in the 8K.

    Joe Byrne led the men's team as he won the individual title for the third year in a row. Sarah Rinker led SIU in the women's race as she finished second.

    Both teams have enjoyed a successful history at the Saluki Invitational. With its victory this year, it marks the ninth time that the women's team has won the event. The men's team took first-place honors in 2003 and 2004.

    In the women's race, Southern Indiana's Heather Cooksey took an early lead and kept it throughout the race, finishing at 17:10.74.

    Rinker came in behind Cooksey for second, finishing the 5K at 17:53.81.

    "It felt pretty good. I mean, I would have liked to have been closer, but I feel like I ran a pretty good race - I ran my race," said Rinker. "I was happy with it."

    Rinker attributed part of the team's success to running in front of a home crowd.

    "It was good, it's always nice having fans. Some of my friends came - its just nice having people to cheer for you, people that actually know you."

    Rinker has led the team in the three events she has competed in this season. She won the EIU Panther Open and finished 22nd our of more than 300 runners at the Roy Griak Invitational.

    "Sarah ran well today. I think she may have ran a little bit tired. Some of the intensity and total miles that she has run the past couple weeks may have caught up with her," said Saluki Head Cross Country Coach Matt Sparks.



    Coming in a little behind Rinker were the trio of Lindsay Wagner, Cherylynn Schilling and Katie Birn.

    Wagner finished seventh with a time of 18:35.33 while Schilling was eighth at 18:42.59. Birn finished ninth with 18:46.43.

    Rounding out the Saluki top five was Shelby Brice at 19:26.90.

    "Shelby has got significantly better since her last time out when she ran at Eastern Illinois," said Sparks. "She was the key component there. Lindsay, Cherylynn and Katie have been good role players and now it is time for them to get out there and take the lead."

    Brice recently became part of SIU's top five to replace an injured Jessica Ordway.

    Also competing for SIU in the meet were Merry Lanker (87th, 24:00.54) and Nicole Rubeck (28:40.37).

    Even though the men's team was not able to take a third consecutive team title, Byrne was able to take his third individual title in as many years. He ran the 8K in 24:45.58, his best time ever in the Saluki Invitational.

    Southern Indiana took the team title as the Screaming Eagles had its top five runners finish in the top 10.

    "I'm real happy with Joe being a three-time champion of the Saluki Invite," said Sparks. "Southern Indiana's Rey Alvarez beat Joe by 30 seconds last week, so Joe has had a fire in his belly since them to try and get some revenge."

    Byrne and Alvarez ran close together early in the race with Alvarez leading. Byrne took the lead around the 5K mark and went on to beat Alvarez by 18 seconds.

    "Byrne looked real comfortable. It's a lot more difficult to lead than it is to follow. Alvarez led the first three miles and Joe sat there the first three miles and let him set the pace," said Sparks. "When Joe made his move, he put a pretty big gap on him."

    "Alvarez killed me last week. Last week I had a bad race and I just wanted to set the record straight this week," said Byrne. "The Saluki Invitational is not a big race, but it's a big race in my heart."

    Freshman Mohamed Mohamed finished behind Byrne at ninth with a time of 25:46.85. Rob Duncan came in close behind Mohamed at 11th with a time of 26:02.43.

    "We ran well as a team today, I though," said Byrne. "We had some very good performances out there, especially from Mohamed Mohamed and Rob Duncan."

    Freshman Brad Pirok finished 20th with a time of 26:20.68. Kyle Monroe rounded out the Saluki top five with a time of 26:31.50, good enough for 24th.

    Also running for SIU were Tom Gentry (29th, 26:54.35), Jason Brosseau (41st, 27:04.53) and Mark Bowman (44th, 27:07.90).

    "I thought we ran well as a team. Southern Indiana packed a lot of guys in there. We knew they were going to be tough to beat but we gave it our best shot," said Byrne. "I was impressed with the lads. This was a good steppingstone for the rest of the year. It was a good team effort today."

    The Salukis return to action Oct. 15 at the Pre-NCAA Meet in Terre Haute, Ind. The event is hosted by Indiana State, who will also be hosting the NCAA Championships, Nov. 21.

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