Oct. 27, 2004
By Jeff Honza
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Southern Illinois University's men's cross country team was picked first in the 2004 Missouri Valley Conference Pre-Championship Poll, released today by the league office. The Salukis host this year's championship slated for Saturday, Oct. 30.
SIU garnered four of the 10 first-place votes and tallied 90 points to barely slip past Drake (two first-place votes, 89 pts.) in the overall voting by MVC coaches.
Not to be forgotten in the race was Indiana State, who finished with 86 total points and three first-place nods.
The Salukis, led by Joe Byrne and Eli Baker, as well as the Bulldogs and Sycamores, will have tough competition from the whole league, as Southwest Missouri State snuck into fourth-place with 74 points.
Rounding out the poll is Bradley (8th, 25 pts.), Evansville (9th, 21 pts.) and Creighton (10th, 19 pts.).
On the women's side, the defending champion Bears of SMS (99 pts.) were a near-unanimous pick after taking all but one of the first-place nods. SMS is looking for its fourth-straight cross country championship title.
INS, this year's national championship host institutuion, follows in third with 73 points, while WSU and ILS are not far behind. The Shockers are fourth with 69 points and the Redbirds rank fifth with 67 points.
UNI occupies the sixth-place spot with 48 points, BU is seventh with 36 points, CU is eighth with 30 tallies and DU is ninth with 27 points. UE closes out the women's poll with 12 points.
The 2004 State Farm MVC Cross Country Championship begins with the 5K women's race at 10:30 a.m., while the 8K men's race follows at 11:30 a.m. An awards ceremony will follow the conclusion of the men's race.
SIU's men's team hasn't won a MVC Championship title since 1995, while the Saluki women haven't accomplished the feat since 1992.