Aug. 31, 2001
CARBONDALE, Ill. - The Southern Illinois University-Carbondale men's and women's cross country teams will kick off the 2001 season Saturday morning on their home course at the Saluki Fast Start Open.
The women's 4K race is scheduled to start at 9 a.m., with the men's 6K race following immediately afterwards at 9:30 a.m behind Abe Martin Field.
The five-school field also will include Bradley, DePaul, Missouri-Kansas City and Murray State. There are 56 male runners registered to compete and 48 female competitors planning to race.
Both SIU teams have new coaches, as Saluki men's track and field head coach Cameron Wright and former Saluki Matt McLelland will guide the men's team, while Jeff Jones will head the women's team. The three men will remain in charge until a permanent replacements are found for the recently retired Don DeNoon.
The SIU men's team returns seven runners from last year's team, including seniors Joe Zeibert (Lombard, Ill.) and Andrew Warnsing (Sullivan, Ill.). Unfortunately Zeibert, who is Salukis top returnee and team captain, will miss Saturday's season-opener with a groin injury.
"I would rather Joe be out in this first meet than around the time of the conference meet,'' said McLelland. "It's going to hurt us, but we are not concerned about this first meet as much as we are later in the year. I don't think holding him out right now is going to affect us much, so we aren't really too worried about it."
The men will also debut five new runners on Saturday, and McLelland is looking forward to seeing a talented freshman crop get initiated to division I competition.
"This is a shorter race than we normally have, being a 6K, so this is just a chance to get the freshmen some experience at this level,'' said McLelland. ' It will be interesting to see what the freshmen do.''
The Salukis expect to battle Missouri-Kansas City and Murray State for the team title.
The SIU women's team has just seven eligible runners available, but should be competitive as well. The Saluki women bring back three runners from last year's squad, including senior Julia Roundtree (Decatur, Ill.). Four runners will be making their Saluki cross country debuts.