Saluki men picked to win MVC, women picked to finish third

    Brian Dixon, 2012 NCAA Qualifier and All-MVC (sixth place).

    Brian Dixon, 2012 NCAA Qualifier and All-MVC (sixth place).

    Aug 19, 2013

    MVC Release

    By Tyler Wooten

    ST. LOUIS -- The Saluki men's cross country team have been picked to repeat as Missouri Valley Conference champions in 2013, the Valley announced Monday in a preseason coaches poll. The Saluki women, who posted their best MVC finish (third) since 2006 last fall, were picked to repeat in third place and received one first-place vote.

    The Saluki men received 77 points and five first-place votes. Indiana State was a close second, finishing three points behind Southern in the voting at 74 points and three first-place votes. This is the second straight season the Valley coaches have selected the SIU men to win the conference title.

    SIU returns all five All-MVC runners from its 2012 championship squad and lost only one student-athlete from last season (Lucas Cherry). NCAA qualifier and All-MVC performer Brian Dixon (sixth place) will lead the Saluki men, and All-MVC runners Zach Dahleen (second), Nick Schrader (seventh), Oscar Medina (ninth) and Juan Carrera (tenth) will solidify a fearsome Saluki men's squad ready to begin their title defense in the highly-competitive MVC. Head coach Matt Sparks, 2012 MVC Coach of the Year, has won the men's championship four times in nine seasons at the helm of the combined cross country program.



    The Saluki women, who stole one first-place vote from three-time defending MVC champion Illinois State, will look to unseat the Redbirds and stave off newcomer Loyola. Sadie Darnell (11th), Kelley Gallagher (15th), Kristen Levi (18th), Alyssa Allison (24th) and Lacey Gibson (28th) all finished within the top-30 at last season's conference meet and should steady a solid Saluki women's squad in their hunt for the first SIU women's title since 1992.

    The Salukis open the season at home on Aug. 30 with the unscored Saluki Early Bird at 5:30 p.m.

    2013 MVC Men's Cross Country Preseason Poll:
    1. Southern Illinois (5) - 77
    2. Indiana State (3) - 74
    3. Loyola - 64
    4. Illinois State - 46
    5. Drake - 39
    6. Wichita State - 37
    7. Bradley - 33
    8. Northern Iowa - 22
    9. Evansville - 14

    2013 MVC Women's Cross Country Preseason Poll:
    1. Illinois State (9) - 98
    2. Loyola - 87
    3. Southern Illinois (1) - 77
    4. Wichita State - 68
    5. Bradley - 65
    6. Indiana State - 45
    7. Northern Iowa - 33
    8. Drake - 28
    9. Missouri State - 27
    10. Evansville - 22