Spt_XC_zc_9/12, A bit of friendly competition

By Gus Bode

SIU travels to Cross Country Challenge

A little bit of friendly competition never hurt anyone.

Actually it is why SIU men’s cross country head coach Matt McClelland feels Doron Giat and Eli Baker should place in the top 10 at the Missouri Cross Country Challenge this Saturday in Columbia, Mo.

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“I think they’ll both finish in the top 10,” McClelland said of the expectations for his top two runners. “I’d like to see them finish top 10 every meet.”

While McClelland believes his top two runners will be near the front, he isn’t as positive as to where SIU as a whole will finish.

“I don’t know where we will place,” McClelland said. “It is still kind of trial and error with the rest of the guys. We need more depth.”

The Salukis hope to ride the legs of Giat and Baker, but they plan to nip at the heals of the other teams as well.

Giat, a junior from Ganei-Dikiva, Israel, overtook the sophomore Baker for first place at the Saluki Fast Start Open in the final stages of the race two weeks ago.

Giat, the reigning champion from last year’s Fast Start Open, crossed the finish line in 19 minutes,41.3 seconds, while Baker placed second with a time of 19:56.86.

“It helps a ton to have him push me,” Baker said. “Anytime you have someone better, then it just makes you work harder.”

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While Baker says the 25-year-old Giat is the clear-cut top runner, Giat believes Baker is catching up.

“He is a lot better this year,” Giat said. “I can tell in practice that he is getting better. He is definitely going to be a top guy.”

McClelland hopes the competitiveness becomes infectious.

“I wish more guys on the team would get in the mix like they are. We really need more depth.”

Reporter Zack Creglow can be reached at [email protected]

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