Nov. 8, 2007
By Ryan Shaw
CARBONDALE, Ill. - The Southern Illinois men's and women's cross country teams will travel to Peoria, Ill. this weekend to compete in the NCAA Midwest Regional Championship.
The meet will be one of nine regional meets going on all over the country. Other sites include Bloomington, Ind., Bethlehem, Penn., Riverdale, Utah, Boston, Mass., Gainesville, Fla., Fayetteville, Ark., Louisville, Ky. and Eugene, Ore.
In Peoria, the Salukis will be looking to qualify for the NCAA Championship Nov. 19 in Terre Haute, Ind.
There are two ways to qualify for the NCAA Championship. The first is to qualify as a team. The top two teams at each of the regional meets automatically qualify for the NCAA Championship. A selection committee will then review the third and fourth-place finishers in each region and make decisions based on a team's performance throughout the season to pick the remaining 13 teams.
Individuals can qualify for the NCAA Championship by finishing as one of the top four runners on a non-qualifying team. Other runners who finish in the top-25 will be entered in a pool for the remaining individual berths to the NCAA Championship.
The Saluki men are ranked sixth in the Midwest Regional poll and head coach Matt Sparks believes that they have a shot at moving on to the NCAA Championship meet.
"On the men's side, it's a rare chance for a Missouri Valley team to take a shot at qualifying for nationals," said Sparks. "To qualify we will have to finish in the top four and upset one of those teams that are ahead of us."
Sophomore Jeff Schirmer, who won the MVC individual title this season, junior Mohamed Mohamed, winner of the 2006 MVC individual title and second-place finisher this season, and senior Kevin Doran, who finished third at conference, are expected to lead the Salukis. Sparks is relying on his top three performers to help the Salukis earn a berth to the NCAAs.
The SIU women's team is coming off of a seventh-place finish at the MVC Championship. The women enter the Midwest Regional un-ranked and looking to bounce back from their performance at Conference.
"We hope Nefeteri Williams will be right there with A'Seret, how they've raced all year with the exception of conference," said Sparks. "That should be our one-two punch once again.
"Megan Hoelscher was sick at the conference meet and she's back healthy now, so I would expect her to be back up where Emily Toennies has been. The women need to come out and redeem themselves from a lackluster conference competition and take their performance, hopefully, to the next level, which would be the national scene."
Saturday's Midwest Regional meet is set to take place at the Newman Golf Course in Peoria, Ill. Action is set to begin with the women's 6K at 11 a.m., followed by the men's 10K at 12:15 p.m.
Meet information and results can be found at Bradley's Championship Central page.