TERRE HAUTE —
The Indiana State men’s cross country team, which came in ranked first in the Missouri Valley Conference, finished second behind Southern Illinois in the MVC championships Saturday at Illinois State.
SIU finished with 34 points, while the Sycamores finished with 40.
The ISU women placed sixth after being ranked fifth in the pre-meet poll.
“Going into the meet, I was a little worried about the depth that Southern had through eight runners,” ISU men’s coach John McNichols admitted. “I thought we matched up well through six, but that edge for them had me nervous. Unfortunately, my fears came to fruition, but it wasn’t from a letdown on our part. Our guys ran tough and ran at or near their pr’s [personal records] in a conference setting. They just ran tough.”
Freshmen John Mascari made history when he became the first Indiana State runner ever to win the MVC title in 24:21. He was followed by seniors Dustin Betz, who finished fourth (24:31), and Al Escalera, who was fifth (24:36).
“John Mascari was our first individual champion and that is something to celebrate,” McNichols emphasized. “We also had three in the top five. Normally when you run like that you win. This year Southern sort of turned the tables on us from past years.”
Other Sycamore finishers were freshmen Taylor Head in 13th (25:03), sophomore Tristan Selby 17th (25:10), freshmen Gabe Ocasio 30th (25:38) and senior Corey Hahn was 40th (25:49).
On the women’s side, the Sycamores were led by junior Jessica Zangmeister, who finished in 10th with a time of 17:55. This earned her all-MVC honors for the first time. The race was won by Aliphine Tuliamuk-Bolton of Wichita State in 16:58.
“I’m disappointed because we were sixth. Bottom half of the conference is never acceptable. Our problem today was a problem we have dealt with for much of this year and that was our fifth position. Jessica Zangmesiter did great and today was a great highlight for her. Our No. 2, Nicole Lucas, was 17th and she hung in there really well. Then at three and four, Kalli and Hanna really kept us in there in a respectable fashion. We just didn’t have anyone that could step into the fifth position and that hurt us a bit. I give a ton of credit to Leeann Michl, who is so unselfish as an elite middle distance runner to come step in and run for us. Also Kylee Thacker came back from injury, and the other just weren’t quite ready for this experience yet.” ISU women’s coach John Gartland said.
Other finishers for the Sycamores were sophomore Nicole Lucas in 17th (18:08), junior Kalli Dalton in 29th (18:33), Hanna Mercer in 37th (18:49), senior Leeann Michl in 67th (19:59), senior Kylee Thacker in 71st (20:18), senior Serena Simeoli in 73rd (20:28) and freshmen Amy Hicks in 75th (20:41).
The Sycamores will return to action for the NCAA Great Lakes Regional meet in Madison, Wis., in two weeks.
Team scores — Southern Illinois 34, Indiana State 40, Wichita State 96, Drake 137, Northern Iowa 144, Illinois State 146, Evansville 157, Bradley 167, Creighton 273.
Team scores — Illinois State 42, Wichita State 83, Southern Illinois 96, Bradley 112, Northern Iowa 126, Indiana State 154, Drake 170, Evansville 179, Missouri State 213, Creighton 262.