Salukis to compete at MVC Championships on Saturday

    Junior Sadie Darnell ranks fifth in the MVC with a 5K time of 17:33.30.

    Junior Sadie Darnell ranks fifth in the MVC with a 5K time of 17:33.30.

    Nov. 1, 2013

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    Cross Country Preview Notebook

    By Tyler Wooten

    DES MOINES, Iowa -- Saluki men's and women's cross country travels to Drake University on Saturday for the Missouri Valley Conference Cross Country Championships.

    The Saluki men are looking for their second consecutive MVC title after their dominant performance in 2012. In a pre-championship poll released on Tuesday, the Saluki men were tabbed to repeat as MVC champs, securing all but one first-place vote. If Southern were to repeat, head coach Matt Sparks would tie Bill Cornell for most MVC men's titles with five, and he would tie for fourth all-time in conference history.

    Southern notched five All-MVC runners in 2012, the most under Coach Sparks and the most in the Valley since 2009 (Indiana State, five). Zach Dahleen fell four seconds shy of claiming the individual MVC Championship in 2012, which was awarded to Indiana State's John Mascari -- who currently holds the best 8K time in the conference. SIU returned all five all-conference runners in 2013, all of whom currently hold 8K times ranked within the top-15 in the MVC.



    The Saluki women had one of their strongest seasons in recent memory, winning three consecutive meets and climbing up to a No. 7 USTFCCCA ranking in the Midwest Region. In the pre-championship poll, the Saluki women were chosen to finish third behind Bradley and two-time defending champion Illinois State. The last time the Saluki women won the MVC title was in 1992 under head coach Don DeNoon.

    In 2012, the Saluki women finished third at the conference meet, their best finish since 2006 (second place). Sadie Darnell (11th place) and Kelley Gallagher (15th place) helped that cause with solid performances, as both finished within 10 seconds of All-MVC distinction. Darnell, Gallagher and sophomore Kristen Levi currently have top-15 5K times in the MVC.

    The men's 8K race will begin at 10:30 a.m. and the women's 5K will start at 11:30 a.m.