Oct. 4, 2001
CARBONDALE -- - The Southern Illinois University men's and women's cross country teams will be hosting the 27th Saluki Invitational on Saturday morning.
The annual SIU homecoming weekend event will start with the college women's 6,000 meter race at 10 a.m., with the college men's 8,000 meter race following at 10:30 a.m. There will also be high school boys' and girls' races and an open race following the collegiate competitions.
This year's field will be tough as always, featuring Memphis, Southeast Missouri St., UT-Martin, Austin Peay, Murray State, Saint Louis, Spalding, Texas-Corpus, Greenville, Eastern Illinois, Missouri-Kansas City, Indiana-Fort Wayne, Illinois State, Indiana State, Bradley, Rend Lake, Western Illinois, Belmont and Tennessee State.
The Salukis men's team will be looking to improve on a disappointing showing two weeks ago at the Illinois Invitational, when they finished 10th out of 16 teams. The Salukis will get a big boost however, as senior captain Joe Zeibert will compete in his first race of the season after recovering from a lingering groin injury. With the return of Zeibert, the men's team will be at full strength for the first time this year.
"It will take a couple of meets for Joe to get back into a rhythm, but there is no question that he will help us,'' said SIU men's co-head coach Cameron Wright. "We are glad to have him back.
"There are going to be a lot of top teams, such as Indiana St.,'' added Wright. "We are just looking to compete hard amongst ourselves and do what we need to do to get ready for the Missouri Valley Meet. We didn't feel that our last meet was a good team performance and we want to push ourselves harder this week.''
The Saluki women's team will be competing with just five runners again this week, coming off a 14th-place showing at the Illinois Invitational.
"First, we hope to keep everyone healthy, we really don't have any margin team-wise for an injury,'' noted Salukis women's coach Jeff Jones. "That said, each team member has really put out for the team to this point of the season and I expect that kind of effort to flow over. Our main objective is to have a solid and consistent effort throughout the duration of the race, if that happens things will fall into place favorably in the end.''
As is the case in the men's race, Jones noted that Missouri Valley Conference rival Indiana St. will be a team to watch.
"The main school we are looking at is Indiana St., a conference school we have not seen. Frankly, we are just concentrating on running fast no matter who is at the meets here on out. Obviously, this is a large meet so there will be stiff competition and I expect our ladies to rise to the occasion.''
The SIU men have won the Saluki Invitational nine times, with the last title coming in 1997. The women's team has won the title two years in a row and seven times overall.