Salukis to compete at NCAA Midwest Regional on Friday

    2012 NCAA Qualifier Brian Dixon

    2012 NCAA Qualifier Brian Dixon

    Nov. 14, 2013

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    By Tyler Wooten

    AMES, Iowa --Saluki cross country, hot off its sweep of the Missouri Valley Conference Cross Country Championships on Nov. 2, will look to make a splash on the national scene on Friday at the NCAA Midwest Regional hosted by Iowa State.

    A total of 37 schools from 13 conferences and nine states will make the trek to Ames on Friday for a chance to qualify for the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind., on Sat., Nov. 23. The top-two teams in each race will qualify for the national meet, as will the top-four individuals not attached to a team already qualified. An additional 13 teams and a variable number of individuals are chosen through a national at-large selection process in the days that follow the regional meet.

    In 2012, the Salukis had a strong showing at the regional meet in Springfield, Mo., where the SIU men finished ninth and the Saluki women 12th. The men's ninth-place finish was their sixth consecutive top-10 regional finish, and the 12th-place finish for the Saluki women was the highest since 2006 (10th).

    The highlight from 2012, though, was the individual performance of current senior Brian Dixon. Dixon finished 19th out of 190 competitors in the 10K with a time of 30:47.59, which earned him USTFCCCA All-Region honors and clinched an individual at-large berth for the NCAA Championships. Dixon, who finished 143rd at nationals the following week, became only the fifth Saluki to ever represent SIU at the national meet.



    The 2013 Saluki cross country season was one for the record books for both the men and women. The Saluki men repeated as MVC champions, earning their MVC-leading 14th conference title, and the women claimed their first championship since 1992 in dramatic fashion. Head coach Matt Sparks pushed his MVC championship total to six with his fifth men's title and his first women's title at SIU, making him the winningest head coach in Saluki cross country history. This was the first sweep of the MVC championships since 1989 (Illinois State), and only the second time since 1987 that the same head coach had swept both MVC titles (Wichita State, John Kornelson).

    In attendance at the regional meet are five nationally ranked squads (three men, two women), including two top-10 schools -- No. 3 Oklahoma State (men) and No. 7 Iowa State (women). The Saluki men will have their work cut out for them in the 10K race, as OSU has won or shared the midwest crown eight out of the last 10 seasons. SIU's men's team is currently ranked eighth in the midwest region rankings.

    The Saluki women are within striking distance of a chance at nationals, as they are currently ranked fifth in the midwest region rankings behind No. 7 Iowa State, No. 16 Minnesota, Oklahoma State and Tulsa. If the race follows the standings perfectly, fifth place would be the highest finish ever for the Saluki women under Coach Sparks, surpassing a sixth-place finish in 2004. No Missouri Valley Conference women's team has ever won the regional meet, nor has an MVC school gone to the national meet as one unit.

    The men's 10K will begin at noon, and the women's 6K will start at 1:15 p.m.


    Team Conference Nat'l Rank (M/W) Reg. Rank (M/W)
    Bradley Missouri Valley 13/6
    Chicago State WAC
    Creighton Big East
    DePaul Big East
    Drake Missouri Valley
    Eastern Illinois Ohio Valley
    Illinois Big Ten RV/NR 6/12
    Illinois-Chicago Horizon
    Illinois State Missouri Valley NR/8
    Iowa Big Ten 15/NR
    Iowa State Big 12 24/7 3/1
    Kansas Big 12 9/10
    Kansas State Big 12 NR/9
    Loyola Missouri Valley 11/14
    Minnesota Big Ten RV/16 5/2
    Missouri SEC 7/7
    Missouri State Missouri Valley
    Nebraska Big Ten
    North Dakota Big Sky
    North Dakota State Summit NR/11
    Northern Illinois MAC
    Northern Iowa Missouri Valley
    Northwestern Big Ten NR/13
    Oklahoma Big 12 RV/NR 4/NR
    Oklahoma State Big 12 3/RV 1/3
    Omaha Summit
    Oral Roberts Southland
    Saint Louis Atlantic 10
    SIU-Edwardsville Ohio Valley
    South Dakota Summit 14/NR
    South Dakota State Summit 10/15
    Southeast Missouri Ohio Valley
    Southern Illinois Missouri Valley 8/5
    Tulsa C-USA 13/NR 2/4
    Western Illinois Summit
    Wichita State Missouri Valley