As the Drake men’s cross-country team prepares for the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Championship, the Bulldogs are receiving plenty of hype.
The United States Track and Field Cross Country Coaches Association ranked the Bulldog runners ninth in the Midwest region in its latest poll.
After claiming its fifth win at the Bradley Classic in Peoria, Ill., on Oct. 14, The USTFCCCA ranked Drake ninth for the second time this season.
Winning a cross country meet requires a good team performance, and the team has been lead by sophomore Iowa native Brogan Austin. Austin was named the State Farm MVC Men’s Cross Country Athlete of the Week last week for his fifth-place finish at the Bulldog Classic and his second-place finish at the Bradley Classic. It was the second time this season Austin garnered the award.
“Brogan has had a great season so far, and he is really geared up for the championship meets at the end of the month,” head coach Dan Hostager said. “Conference and regionals are his goals so we are excited about where that is heading.”
The Bulldogs run in State Farm MVC Championship on Oct. 30. The 8,000-meter course will be waiting for them at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course in Terre Haute, Ind.
The women’s squad will also run in its State Farm MVC Cross Country Championship on Oct. 30. Drake has been resting and preparing for the meet since the team returned from Peoria for the Bradley Classic.
The path to the MVC title for the Bulldogs has not been a smooth ride, especially at the beginning of the season. Drake kicked off the season with a third-place finish in the Bulldog Classic, but the early success was followed by a fifth-place finish out of seven teams at the Minnesota OZ Memorial and a last-place finish at the Roy Griak Invitational.
After two meets where the Bulldogs did not have their best outings, they turned the corner at the Grand View Invitational by placing second. They continued their success at the Walt Disney Cross Country Classic with a third-place finish out of 28 teams from across the nation.
The team only boasts one senior, Kirsten Lake. Head coach Dan Hostager said he trusts his underclassmen runners to become comfortable with running at this level and eventually be successful.
“They will keep improving as they gain more confidence at the collegiate level,” Hostager said.
The underclassmen on the team are no longer inexperienced. With the racing experience from Peoria to the humidity and rain in Orlando, Drake has enough experience to make some noise at the MVC Championship meet.