Northwest Missouri State's basketball teams completed their exhibition/scrimmage schedules over the weekend and are now set to begin their respective regular seasons.
After splitting a pair of exhibition games, the Bearcat women play their first real game Friday at 6 p.m. against Quincy University at Bearcat Arena.
The game marks the official head coaching debut of Mark Kellogg, the successor to long-tenured coach Gene Steinmeyer.
Quincy, a member of the Great Lakes Valley Conference, finished 22-8 last year and lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to national runner-up Ashland by two points.
Picked to finish third in the GLVC, Quincy graduated its two leading scorers—first-team all-region selection Ali Schawagmeyer and second team all-region forward Linsay Henke.
The Hawks lost exhibition games to Division I Iowa and Drake by 35 points each.
Northwest is coming off a 6-22 season and was picked to finish 14th out of 15 teams in the MIAA.
Sophomore center Maggie Marnin is the team's leading returning scorer with 7.3 points per game.
The defending MIAA champion men's team has a far less difficult opener on tap against NAIA Graceland Sunday at 3:30 p.m.
Northwest beat Graceland 90-60 last year in its non-conference finale and led by 32 points at the half.
Picked third in the MIAA, the Bearcats return All-MIAA point guard DeShaun Cooper and several other key contributors from last year's 24-8 team.
Gracleand (1-1) will have already played three regular season games before facing Northwest.
It runs in the family
While falling several places short of making it to nationals Saturday at the Central Region Meet, Northwest Missouri senior men's runner Ryan Darling went out on top in another regard.
An all-region finisher for the second straight year, Darling's 10,000M time of 30:53.99 was a personal best and broke the school record held by his father Vernon Darling of 30:55.
Vernon was one of eight individuals inducted into the M-Club Hall of Fame Friday night.
Northwest's lone national qualifier, senior Brittany Poole, ran her career-best time of 21:24.1 and finished seventh despite being hampered by foot problems only two days before the meet.
The pain was bad enough that Northwest head coach Scott Lorek told her going in that if her stride was off, he would pull her out of the race.
Able to fight through the injury, Poole went on to become Northwest's first national qualifier since 1997.
She'll return to Joplin for the Division II National Meet Nov. 17.
Lorek thinks Poole, an All-American in the 3000M Steeplechase, has a good chance to earn All-American honors in cross country.
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