See the full rankings here.
The Missouri Valley Conference released its 2009 cross country preseason coaches poll today. Head coach Greg Hipp and the Bears were picked to finish third (76 points). Missouri State did not receive a first place vote, despite finishing second in last year's conference tournament. Ahead of the Bears in the poll were Illinois State (86 points, three first place votes) and defending Valley champions Wichita State (96 points, seven first place votes). Rounding out the conference are Southern Illinois, UNI, Indiana State, Bradley, Drake, Creighton and Evansville.
"This isn't where we want to be, with our history," said Hipp, "but, considering how young we are this season, it is where we should be ranked at this point".
The Bears will be led by senior Stacy Nelson and sophomore Terry Phillips. Nelson and Phillips also run distance for the track squad and both earned MVC All-Conference selections in 2009. Phillips made it to the NCAA Nationals in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Other Bears returning to the course this season are juniors Stephanie Harres and Mari-Jean Vance and sophomores Andrea Marshall and Angie Chase.
Coach Hipp has also brought in an exciting freshman class this season. Emily Beaver (Diamond, Mo.), Abigail Schlater (Council Bluffs, Iowa), Ashton Stubbs (Platte City, Mo.), Maggie Sutor (Mokena, Ill.) and Nicole Thate (Darien, Ill.) all come to the Bears after very successful high school careers.
"We will be dependant on newcomers, and Terry will be an all-conference threat," said Hipp on the Bears 2009 campaign, "Come conference championship time, I'm confident that we can develop ourselves into a threat once again."
Missouri State will host the Missouri State Cross Country Classic on Saturday, September 19, at 9 a.m. on the Missouri State Cross Country Facility. The Bears will open their 2009 campaign on September 4, at 5 p.m. hosting a dual against Southwest Baptist. The Beats will also host the 2009 NCAA Midwest Regional on November 14, at 11 a.m.