EDWARDSVILLE, ILL. – The first thing to notice on the 2012 SIUE cross country schedule is the re-introduction of a postseason for the Cougars.
SIUE closes out the 2012 schedule with the Ohio Valley Conference Championships in Jacksonville, Ala., on Oct. 27 and the NCAA Midwest Regional Nov. 9 at Springfield, Mo.
SIUE Head Coach Eileen McAllister also has set up four "regular season" meets for the Cougars beginning with the EIU Walt Crawford Open in Charleston as the opener Sept. 7. The Cougars have two home meets scheduled with the SIUE Cross Country Challenge on Sept. 14 and the SIUE John Flamer Invite on Oct. 13. SIUE also travels to Louisville, Ky., for the Greater Louisville Classic Sept. 29.
"Of course we are overjoyed to finally compete in the postseason again. I am pleased with our 2012 schedule. We will get to see several OVC teams prior to conference between EIU, our home meets, and Louisville," said McAllister.
With two home meets, McAllister hopes the Cougars will draw good crowds for the events.
"I love running at home. We are so lucky to have our own course on campus. It's a challenging but excellent course, and the fans are awesome," said McAllister. "At our first home meet we will see Southeast Missouri and Western Illinois as well as a top-ranked Division III program in Washington University."
McAllister said she expects the Louisville event to have a large turnout.
"Louisville will be a huge meet. They host the Division I national championship meet in November, so a lot of schools will be previewing the course at the Sept. 29th meet," she said.
SIUE's focus will be on preparing for its first postseason events in a handful of seasons due to the Division I certification process.
"Our training will focus on getting as strong as possible for the OVC championships in October and exposing them to a few races along the way to work on strategy. The OVC meet will be a long trip and will most likely be pretty warm. I guess it's a bit of a disadvantage with it being in Jacksonville, but really since the team hasn't competed at an OVC championship, yet they don't have anything to compare. We probably won't see as many fans there as we would if it were closer," said McAllister.
Cross country is a unique sport as every school in the region is allowed to compete at the regional championship. "The Midwest region is very tough as are all the regions at this level," she added.