Aug. 20, 2012
Missouri State cross country was picked to finish in a tie for fifth place by a vote of Missouri Valley Conference cross country coaches in their annual preseason poll. The Bears and Indiana State both received 53 points in the poll.
Returning runners for MSU include seniors Emily Beaver and Maggie Sutor, juniors Erin Edwards, Lisa Imgrund and Monica Smith, and redshirt junior Nicole Thate.
Illinois State was selected as the 2012 favorites. After winning last year's MVC Cross Country Championship and returning four of the seven members of the championship squad, the league coaches picked Illinois State to claim the women's title in 2012. The Redbirds received seven first-place votes and a total of 96 points largely due to their trio of All-Conference runners (Krista DeCeault, Elise Sigg and Kristen Zillmer) that are coming back. DeCeault took second-place at the 2011 MVC Cross Country Championship with Sigg and Zillmer finishing fifth and tenth, respectively.
Bradley was picked second in the preseason poll earning one first-place mark and 83 points. The Braves finished in third-place a year ago with three top-15 finishes. The sophomore duo of Sarah McMahon (seventh) and Emily Delvo (12th), along with junior Cassie Lohmeier (14th) held Bradley's top three times in the 5k and 6k distances and will provide leadership to a talented young team.
Wichita State, came in as an extremely close third, earning 82 points and the remaining two first-place votes. The Shockers return three of their 2011 runner-up squad, with the most notable being senior Aliphine Tuliamuk. Tuliamuk had a stellar 2011 season winning the MVC Championship, taking the NCAA Midwest Regional title, finishing 12th at the NCAA Championship and being named the Midwest Region Cross Country Athlete of the Year.
Southern Illinois notched the No. 4 spot, tallying 68 points, after only losing their top-finisher from last year. Sophomores Lacey Gibson and Tori Parry as well as junior Eileen Schweiss are the top returners for the Salukis. Gibson finished four meets in the top-ten while Schweiss had four top-15 finishes.
Northern Iowa is picked seventh with 43 points, while Drake took the eighth spot having 28 points. The Panthers return five of their top seven runners from its 2011 team, with four of them being seniors (Hayley Thomas, Lindsey Wilkins, Scotty Schon and Allison Fick). The Bulldogs bring back all of their runners who scored at the 2011 Championship. Sophomore Mariel Fulton and senior Kirsten Lake were Drake's top-two finishers last year and will look to guide the newcomers.
Evansville and Creighton round out the women's poll in ninth and tenth place, respectively.
The Purple Aces will be under the guidance of senior Lauren Zeabart and juniors Kelby Jenkins and Jacqueline Carlson. The Jays' return everyone from their 2011 Conference squad. Meghan Barry and Courtney Sawle, Creighton's top-two 2011 finishers, look to have strong sophomore campaigns.