Oral Roberts, winners of four of the last five men\'s indoor track & field titles and the defending women\'s champions, is favored to take home the titles in 2005-06 as Golden Eagles stand atop both the Mid-Continent Conference Preseason Men\'s and Women\'s Indoor Track & Field polls. The voting was comprised of the league\'s six head coaches, who could not vote for their own team.
On the men\'s side, ORU received three first-place votes en route to 23 points. Southern Utah, which received two first-place votes, was a close second with 21 points, while the other first-place vote went to third-place Western Illinois as it amassed 19 points. UMKC (10), Valparaiso (9) and Chicago State (8) round out the voting on the men\'s side.
The women\'s side saw the Golden Eagles amass five first-place votes on the way to 25 points. The other first-place vote was recorded by second-place Western Illinois as the Westerwinds ended up with 20 tallies, while Southern Utah filled out the top half of the poll with 18 points. Valparaiso (13), UMKC (9) and Chicago State (5) round out the women\'s poll.
The Oral Roberts men will look to win its seventh title in school history behind a talented list of returnees. 2004-05 Coach of the Year Joe Dial\'s main returnee is 2004-05 Athlete of the Year Prince Mumba. Mumba finished second in the 800-meter and mile runs at last year\'s Championships while also being a part of the title-winning distance medley and 4X400 relay teams. Other key returnees include James Wanjiku, who was first in the mile run and second in the 3,000-meter run in \'05, Maurice Moss, the defending 60-meter dash champion and runner-up in the 200-meter dash, and Shaun Smith, who won the 800-meter run.
Southern Utah will look to knock Oral Roberts from the top behind a veteran lineup that includes 11 All-Conference honorees. Jess Baumgartner will lead the T-Birds effort as the sophomore is the defending Mid-Con champion in the 3,000-and 5,000-meter runs. Brian Taylor also took home gold medal honors at last year\'s Championships in the pole vault, while Brad Parker will look to improve on his third-place finishes in last year\'s mile and 3,000-meter runs.
Western Illinois boasts solid returnees in its effort to get to the top of the Mid-Con. Head coach Mike Stevenson will lean on the experience of Sean Delahunt, the gold medal winner in the shot put at last year\'s Championships, to lead a young squad. Dwaine Miller and Alex Douglas will look to provide support after both finished third at last year\'s Championships in the 60-meter hurdles and long jump, respectively. Tim Bradley will look to continue his solid distance running after garnering second team All Mid-Con honors during the 2005 cross country season.
UMKC boasts three returning All-Conference performers as it looks to move up the standings in 2005-06. Alex Kelsey was the highest individual finisher for the \'Roos at last year\'s Championships with a second-place showing in the pole vault. Kaleb Stoppel and Charles Troupe will also be key scorers for UMKC as they finished second and third, respectively, in the high jump during last year\'s Championships.
Valparaiso head coach Tyler Wingard will look to mold a young squad into a contender for the Mid-Con title. Adriano Schultz, Adam Piaskowy and Michael Brouch will look to provide leadership for the Crusaders after each had a solid cross country season. Josh Stamper and Joshua Lee will look to improve on their performances from last year after both led Valpo in the pole vault and long jump, respectively.
Chicago State returns five All-Conference performers as it looks to improve on a fourth-place showing at last year\'s Championships. Drew Nelson leads CSU into action after a solid cross country season and a third-place finish in the 800-meter run a year ago. He\'s joined by Brandon Cates and Mike Runnels, both of whom turned in third-place finishes at last year\'s 200-and 400-meter dashes, respectively. High jumper Derrick Smith is also a key to Chicago State\'s fortunes after he finished with the gold medal at last year\'s Championships. Nelson, Cates, Runnels and Stephon Hardon also comprise the second-place 4X400 relay team from the 2004-05 Championships.
The Oral Roberts women\'s chances of winning back-to-back titles rest in the return of 11 All-Conference performers from last year\'s record-setting squad. 2004-05 Newcomer of the Year Faithy Kamangila looks to lead the Golden Eagles to the top after winning the 3,000-and 5,000-meter runs during last year\'s Championships. 2004-05 Coach of the Year Joe Dial will also lean on Mable Kunihira, the defending 800-meter and mile champion, English Clark, the defending triple jump champion, and his championship distance medley and 4X400 relay squads to bring the title back to Tulsa.
Western Illinois boasts a talented group of returnees as eight athletes who earned All-Conference mention a year ago led the way. Aubrey Martin is the top returnee after winning the gold in the weight throw and shot put at last year\'s Championships. The Westerwinds will have solid long distance runners as Beth Whalen and Sarah Swain, who finished third in last year\'s Championships in the 5,000-and 3,000-meter run respectively, are coming off solid cross country seasons. Cara Neill will also look to improve her performances in the dash races as she finished third in both the 200 and 400 meter dashes last season.
Southern Utah looks to move up the Mid-Con standings after a third-place finish at the 2004-05 Championships. The T-Birds return 10 All-Conference performers led by Tawny Parks, Marie Muscato and Brittany Watters. Parks, a second team All Mid-Con performer during the cross country season, finished second last season in the 3,000-meter run, Muscato is the defending Mid-Con pole vault champion and Watters finished second in the 400-meter dash at last year\'s Championships as well as being a part of the second-place 4X400 relay team.
Valparaiso will look to turn the corner in 2005-06 after a fourth-place finish in the Mid-Con Championships a year ago. Emilie Mariseck, Jennifer Plaskota and Melanie Wilson return to provide a young squad with leadership. Wilson was the highest returning individual finisher at the 2005-06 Championships with second place effort in the 60-meter hurdles and triple jump.
UMKC returns four All-Conference performers as it looks to move up the Mid-Con standings. The \'Roos return two of the top-three finishers from last season\'s high jump in Jessica Hulbert and Courtney Huber. Christine Ensign will also be a key contributor as she comes off a first team All Mid-Con cross country campaign as well as finishing second in the 5,000-meter run at last year\'s Championships.
Chicago State is led by returning All-Conference performer LeTreya Parker as it looks to become a contender for the Mid-Con title. Parker finished third in the 60-meter dash at last year\'s Championships and looks to improve in 2005-06. Danielle Riley will likely lead the distance runners after a strong cross country season as Janina Mercado and Taitt Christian provide support.