SIU men, women both place third at MVC championships

By Gus Bode

Although nine SIU athletes posted personal-best times at the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Cross Country Championships, the Salukis were unable to finish in the spot they wanted, instead settling for a pair of third-place finishes.

Senior Joe Byrne and junior Sarah Rinker led the Salukis’ men’s and women’s cross country teams in their respective races on Saturday and both captured third overall. Byrne turned in a time of 24 minutes, 23.56 seconds while Rinker clocked in at 17:00.52.

Rinker said there’s no reason to frown on finishing in third place as a team.


“We were real close to getting second,” Rinker said. “It’s over, there’s nothing you can say or do now. Everyone raced their hardest and did their best. We’ll have to shoot for first place next year.”

Even though the Salukis didn’t finish in the spot they hoped for, they finished where they were projected. In the pre-race poll, SIU was picked to finish third in both the men’s and women’s race. Indiana State won the men’s race with 35 points, while Drake finished second with 75. SIU amassed 104 points.

Wichita State was the top women’s team, finishing with 37 points. Missouri State was second with 74, and the Salukis notched 96.

SIU did, however, finish more runners in the All-MVC team than expected. The award is given out to the top 10 runners on the men’s and women’s side. Along with Byrne and Rinker, freshman Mohamed Mohamed garnered the honor by finishing in eighth place with a time of 24:43.86.

Mohamed’s time, along with the 17th place, 25:13.31 run by Brad Pirok, charged the Salukis’ attack. SIU head coach Matt Sparks said having two freshmen place so well in the conference meet is rare. Mohamed and Pirok were the first two freshmen to finish the race.

“A real bright spot was the freshmen,” Sparks said. “We had the top two freshmen overall. Anytime a freshman finishes in the top ten, it’s a real achievement. It bodes well for the future.”

Senior Kyle Monroe finished fourth for SIU in 25:35 while junior Tom Gentry was the fifth runner in 26:17.23.


Sparks said Byrne was in position to win the race, leading with about 400 meters to go. Byrne couldn’t hold off the late charges from his competitors, and two slipped by.

“I didn’t run a smart race, I got out too early,” Byrne said. “I’m not disappointed, but I’m not happy. I should have ran a better race.”

On the women’s side, the Salukis had three other runners beside Rinker in the top 25. Junior Lindsay Wagner, with a time of 18:01.71, was the 18th runner to cross. Katie Birn, a junior, was 20th in 18:07.75. Sophomores Shelby Brice and Cherylynn Schilling rounded out the Saluki pack, finishing in 18:14.20 and 18:31.50, respectively.

Reporter Jordan Wilson can be reached at [email protected]