|ISU laces up for lone home meet|
|Written by Ashley Schrader, Daily Vidette Sports Editor|
|Thursday, 16 September 2010 21:58|
The words, “home sweet home” are spoken very rarely by members of the Illinois State men’s and women’s cross-country teams. In fact, the three-word phrase is used only once in the Redbirds’ three-month long season.
Not only is the Illinois Intercollegiate Championships ISU’s lone home meet, but the invitational also serves as a reunion for native Illinois runners in all three divisions of nationally recognized athletic associations.
“[The Intercollegiate] is not like most other invites,” senior Matt Mroczynski said.
“When it’s only family there supporting you [at other meets], it’s nice to have friends able to watch you run here. It’s something special, and it’s something I really appreciate. It provides good competition with other Illinois schools attending too.”
The 2010 Intercollegiate Championships takes place at Weibring Golf Course with the women’s open race beginning at 4:15 p.m. today. The men’s open race precedes the women’s, with the women’s championship race following at 5 p.m. The men’s championship race is set for 5:45 p.m.
The Redbirds will host a combined 79 men’s and women’s teams coming from all three divisions of the National College Athletic Association (NCAA), the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA).
Following suit, the scoring will be done in an overall basis and in separate scoring between the University division (NCAA Division I only) and the College division (NCAA Division II, III, NAIA and NJCAA teams).
The cross-country meet has raised in popularity every season and the proof is in the growing size of teams that make the in-state trip to Normal in September.
Last season, ISU hosted 65 teams. In 2008, 55 teams ran at Weibring Golf Course and a mere 24 teams came in ’07 when the meet was revived.
This year’s Intercollegiate Championships mark the fourth consecutive year of operation, however the history dates back to 1968 when the meet first began. The men’s race ended in 1985 and the women’s race ended a year later, but ISU revitalized the meet in 2007.
“The numbers show that people are really excited about this meet and they want to compete here on our campus,” ISU head coach Jeff Bovee said.
He added, “We have more runners than we have ever had in the four years we’ve hosted. We have about 1,000 runners entered this year, which is about 150 more than last year and we have more teams here also. It’s definitely growing and that’s pretty exciting.”
With the women’s team returning every runner from last season and the addition of several varsity-running freshmen, ISU will be the team to beat.
“We want to compete to try and win the Championship, the women want to try and defend their championship from last year,” Bovee said. “It’s definitely going to be more challenging, but we are shooting for the win.”
The men took fourth in 2009 finishing just behind returning powerhouses North Central, Illinois and Rend Lake. Scott Krapf, who was a senior last season, led the ‘Birds in fourth-place, while returning senior Mroczynski notched eighth.
“The men are going to go after it and see what they can do,” Bovee said. “We want to focus on getting better as a team, we want to go out there and get a solid performance.”
As the ‘Birds’ top returner, Mroczynski is looking to build off the momentum he created in the Redbirds’ first race, when the senior finished first at the Iowa Invitational 6K race.
“I’m running a little smarter now,” Mroczynski said. “I have to be patient and not over react if something happens with someone going faster [than my pace]. I just need to relax and run my own race and race the second half when no one wants to; doing that should help me finish pretty well.”