What's Ahead: The Drake men's cross country team looks to thrive in their first meet, opening its season hosting the annual 4k Bulldog Classic this Friday (Aug. 31) at Ewing Park, located on the south side of Des Moines. The double-duel meet will include both men's and women's competitions. The women's race will begin at 5 p.m., with the men's race set to follow at 5:45 p.m.
Sizing Up The Squad: Drake head coach Dan Hostager returns nine letterwinners from last year's squad which finished third at the 2011 Missouri Valley Conference meet. The Bulldogs expect big performances from the junior duo of Brogan Austin (Boone, Iowa) and Omet Kak (Des Moines, Iowa) who had impressive performances last season. Austin won the 2011 MVC cross country crown as well as the 5,000-meter at the 2012 MVC Indoor Championship.
Austin and junior Doug Brady (Englewood, Colo.) were both named MVC Scholar Athletes last season. Senior Charlie Lapham (Golden Valley, Minn.) and sophomore Conor Wells (Des Moines, Iowa) also look to improve on last seasons finishes.
A Year Ago: The Bulldogs dominated winning both sides of the double-dual against in-state rivals UNI (20-35) and Iowa State (15-40) while having six runners finish in the top ten.
Kak led the Bulldogs by finishing in second place, crossing the line in 12:48.13, barely edging out Lapham, who finished third in 12:48.50. They were followed by Wells and Austin, who finished fourth and fifth respectively. It was Wells' first collegiate race, which he ran in an impressive 12:51.74.
Drake Earns Spot in USTFCCCA Midwest Regional Rankings: For the second straight season the Drake men's cross country team opens the 2012 campaign ranked 12th in the first United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Midwest Regional poll.
The Bulldogs spent time in the top ten through mid-October, but ended the season last year in the same spot, 12.
Bulldogs Picked Third in Conference Preseason Poll: After one of the most successful cross country campaigns in recent history during the 2011 season, the Drake men's cross country team was recognized as a top-three team in the Missouri Valley Conference by the coaches in the annual preseason poll.
being the runner up at the 2011 MVC Men's Championship, Southern Illinois is
the preseason favorite getting seven first-place votes for 74 points.
Indiana State was tabbed in the second spot as they received one first-place vote totaling 65 points. Third was Drake with 64 points. Wichita State tallied 57 points, one first-place vote and fourth-place. Illinois State came in at fifth-place earning 49 points with four of the seven runners who competed in last year's championship coming back. Bradley is picked sixth with a total of 34 points. Northern Iowa notched the seventh position with 26 points while Evansville (23) and Creighton (13) round out the final positions.
The 2012 MVC Cross Country Championship will be held in Normal, Ill. on October 27.