SIU cross country teams take pride in home course

By Gus Bode

There’s no place like home

Factoid:SIU will be hosting the Saluki Invitational this Saturday morning.

Indianapolis has the Brickyard, Louisville has Churchill Downs, and Carbondale has the SIU Cross Country Course.


The course, which was the host for the NCAA Midwest regionals last year, will be the site for the Saluki Invitational this Saturday. SIU hopes to use its home course to its benefit as it attempts to get back on track before the conference meet.

Saluki coaches and runners alike are both affectionate to the place they call the “home course,” and they have good reason.

The 8,000-meter course has many distinct advantages for runners during hot weather and has a good mix of terrains.

“It is landscaped to where runners have shade on really hot races,” said SIU men’s cross country coach Matt McClelland. “It helps keep the runners from overheating.

“There is a lot of flat land. I also think there is a lot of places with hills, so there is a really nice terrain.”

Runners like the course also because it produces fast times. McClelland believes it remains a fast course because the grounds crew is always working on it and cutting where the coaches and players believe the grass needs to be cut.

Sophomore Eli Baker likes the fact that the course isn’t one-dimensional.


“I like it because it isn’t a wide open course out in the middle of the field,” Baker said. “It is a little hilly and you go through woods, you go through grass, you go through gravel, so you get a bit of everything with it.”

The course allows spectators to see their favorite runners much more often from one spot and offers a scenic panoramic view with trees and a lake in sight.

Recruits have also taken a liking to it.

“It is a nice recruiting tool,” McClelland said. “A lot of the guys come in and like it.”

With all the obvious advantages, there is no need to ask Dorothy.

Even Toto could tell you – there is no place like home.

Reporter Zack Creglow can be reached at [email protected].