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Drake Men's Cross Country Squad Looks Towards Conference Battle

Courtesy: Drake Athletics
         
Release: October 24, 2012
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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What's Ahead: The Drake men's cross country team heads to Normal, Ill., to compete in the Missouri Valley Conference Cross Country Championship on Saturday (Oct. 27). The 8-kilometer race, hosted by Illinois State at the Weibring Golf Club, starts at 11:30 a.m. CT.

"Our men and women have put in a lot of hard work this year so we're very excited about the MVC Championships this weekend," Drake head coach Dan Hostager said. "The MVC is historically very strong and this year is no exception-quite a few of the teams have very high regional rankings," Hostager added.

Drake Men Picked to Finish Fourth in Pre-Meet Poll: The Bulldogs were tabbed to finish fourth at the 2012 MVC Cross Country Championship according to the pre-meet coaches poll released Tuesday (Oct. 23). Drake earned 53 points in the poll. The Bulldogs were pegged to finish third during the preseason coaches poll conducted in August.

In the most recent, pre-championship poll, Indiana State was picked to win with 78 points and seven first-places votes while Southern Illinois finished with 73 points and two first-place votes. Wichita State was third gaining 60 points. UNI was fifth with 47 points, while Bradley was sixth with 36 points. Rounding out the poll were host Illinois State (27), Evansville (19) and Creighton (12).

Last Time Out: The Bulldogs were off last weekend to taper and rest, but the previous weekend was packed with action and impressive times. The squad was split to compete at two different meets.

The majority of the team went to Peoria, Ill. to compete in the Bradley Classic where the Bulldogs finished 13th. Senior Mike Rodriguez (Chanhassen, Minn.) was the top finisher for Drake for the second time this season. His time of 25:29 on the 8-kilometer course was good for 36th place.

Four members of the Drake men's squad traveled to Louisville, Ky. to compete at the NCAA Pre-Nationals meet on Saturday (Oct. 13).  The 8-kilometer race at Louisville's E.P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park served as a preview of next month's NCAA Championship at the same venue and featured one of the deepest and most talented fields the Bulldogs have seen to date.

Junior Brogan Austin (Boone, Iowa) finished 15th in the talented field of 278 runners in the black flight, turning in a time of 24:41.5. Austin was followed by fifth-year senior Charlie Lapham (Golden Valley, Minn.) in 61st at 24:47.7. Sophomore Conor Wells (Des Moines, Iowa) finished in 25:40.8 in 96th and freshman Rob McCann (Mississauga, Ontario) was the 99th finisher at 25:41.3.

A Year Ago: Closing a phenomenal 2011 cross country season, Brogan Austin was missing one thing, an individual title. He got that and more on Oct. 30 at the 2011 Missouri Valley Conference Cross Country Championships.

Austin crossed the line in 25:15.0 on the 8-kilometer course at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course in Terre Haute, Ind. to become the first Drake runner since Bobby Anderson in 2004 to take home the individual title.

Omet Kak (Des Moines, Iowa) added another top-10 finish for the Bulldogs, claiming a seventh-place finish in 25:27.9 to earn all-conference honors.

Drake finished third as a team on 66 points, with host Indiana State winning the team title with 34, and Southern Illinois second with 48.

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