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Lindy (Nelson) Rushing set SIU's school record in the 5,000-meter run in 1981, and she would have set the indoor record if there was anywhere to do that back then.

Rushing, who was honored as part of the Missouri Valley Conference's celebration of 25 years of women's athletics, never competed in the league. The Salukis joined the Valley in 1974, but women's athletics competed in the Illinois Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (IAIAW) back in the late 1970s and early 80s. SIU helped form the Gateway Conference, which only had women's athletics, in 1982, Rushing's senior year.

"In McAndrew (Stadium) you couldn't even run in places, because it was like concrete, so we would just run on the roads until we found some place that was clear," Rushing said.

Rushing's chances of running in college were anything but in 1978. She got hurt her senior season, and didn't compete, so nobody recruited her. An all-city field hockey player at Springfield High School, she walked on at SIU after begging coach Claudia Blackman to join the team.

"My mom was dying, wanted to be close to home," Rushing said. "I just asked Claudia if I could walk on, and she said 'Well, what you did in high school, you could probably make the team.' And I was her best runner."

Her mother died two days before her first collegiate cross country meet.

"Everything took over," she said.

Rushing set the school record in the 5,000 at 16 minutes, 44 seconds with a hand-held stopwatch. It still stands today. She won five state titles in cross country and track, and 17 of 22 cross country meets. Rushing was inducted into the SIU Hall of Fame in 1987.

• Drake women receive 13 seed, take on Texas A&M Friday: The Drake women's basketball team (26-7) received a 13 seed in the Spokane Regional Monday, and faces fourth-seeded Texas A&M (24-9) in College Station, Texas. Tipoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.

The Bulldogs earned the MVC's automatic bid to the Big Dance by winning the league tournament Sunday in Moline. 

Speaking of Drake, the men's basketball team won the league's first postseason game this year with an 80-73 win over Abilene Christian (Texas) Monday in the Collegeinsider.com Tournament. The Bulldogs, who hosted, offered fans free admission. Their next opponent, and where they'll play next, is yet to be determined.

• Bartley named academic All-American: SIU point guard Marcus Bartley was named a third team academic All-American by CoSIDA (College Sports Information Directors of America) on Monday.

A sport administration major with a 4.00 GPA, Bartley led the Salukis with 90 assists, despite missing the first six games of the season with a broken wrist. He returned in December and played in 26 games, including 22 starts. The Saint Louis transfer and Decatur native averaged 6.7 points and ranked second on the team in 3-point shooting percentage at 38.3 percent.

Bartley became the program's first academic All-America team pick since Bryan Mullins in 2009. Drake's Reed Timmer, the MVC Scholar-Athlete of the Year with Loyola's Clayton Custer, also made the third team.

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TODD HEFFERMAN covers SIU athletics for The Southern Illinoisan. Contact him at todd.hefferman@thesouthern.com, 618-351-5087 or on Twitter at @THefferman.

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Sports reporter

Todd Hefferman has covered SIU athletics since 2008. A University of Iowa grad, he is a member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and a Heisman Trophy voter.

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