The men's Missouri Valley Conference cross country race ended with an upset. Wichita State coach Marc Burns wanted to make sure nothing unexpected happened in the women's race.
A muddy course in Peoria, Ill., made early positioning crucial. His runners got out in the front pack early and stayed there on their way to a fifth-straight MVC title on Saturday.
"After the men's race, the course was probably the muckiest, sloppiest course we've ever run," Burns said. "The conditions made it really hard for people to move up in the field. We told our girls that we need to establish ourselves up front right away."
Three Shockers finished in the top six, led by Tonya Nero's third-place finish in the 5-kilometer race. Nero's time of 18 minutes, 45 seconds was followed by teammate Irene Kosgei (18:54) in fourth. Leah Thompson (18:57) finished sixth.
"They showed up today," Burns said. "We pretty much closed the door on any speculation of an upset from the gun. We wanted to make sure we made it a strong, dominant victory."
Kosgei had not finished higher than eighth in a meet this fall. Last year, she finished third in the MVC meet after an undistinguished regular season.
"She showed up again in the conference meet and made it happen," Burns said. "She did a good job of running strong on the right day of the year."
WSU's streak of five women's championships is the longest in conference history. It brings WSU's total to 10 titles, also tops in the MVC.
The WSU men placed seventh, their lowest finish since the 1999 team finished eighth. Marius Sava led the Shockers with a time of 27:37 in the 8-kilometer race.
Illinois State's Scott Krapf won the individual title with a time of 25:47.
Missouri State's Terry Phillips won the women's race with a time of 18:32.
Team scores — 1. Wichita State 43, 2. Illinois State 86, 3. Bradley 93, 4. Indiana State 96, 5. Missouri State 101, 6. Southern Illinois 121, 7. Northern Iowa 166, 8. Drake 187, 9. Creighton 247, 10. Evansville 303.
WSU — 3. Tonya Nero (18:45), 4. Irene Kosgei (18:54), 6. Leah Thompson (18:57), 13. Rachel York (19:27), 17. Olivia Martinez (19:39), 37. Naomy Kea (20:18), 38. Sharon Zeller (20:22), 52. Megan Gayer (20:51).
Team scores — 1. Indiana State 32, 2. Southern Illinois 33, 3. Illinois State 74, 4. Northern Iowa 120, 5. Bradley 142, 6. Drake 163, 7. Wichita State 213, 8. Evansville 213, 9. Creighton 256.
WSU — 24. Marius Sava (27:37), 46. Trace Kendrick (28:35), 48. Scott Ufford (28:38), 50. Josh Richardson (28:47), 55. Jake Stecklein (28:58), 67. Ryan Woodman (29:56), 69. Jake Wike (30:02), 72. Brandon Haist (30:36).