Cross country teams start season strong

| Managing Editor

Washington University’s men’s and women’s cross country teams opened their season on a positive note Saturday, placing fourth of 15 and fifth of 13, respectively, at the WU Early Bird Meet.

The men’s team, coming off the disappointment of not qualifying for the NCAA meet last season, was paced by junior Matt Kruger, who finished 15th overall in the field of 185 runners. The team finished very tightly bunched with remaining scorers freshman Kyle Short, junior Zach Griffen, sophomore Dave Spandorfer and sophomore Erik Hinrichsen finishing in 17th, 18th, 21st and 22nd places, respectively. The last two runners on the team, freshman Tucker Hartley and sophomore Kwin Keuter, also stayed close and nabbed 23rd and 25th places. All seven runners recorded personal records (PRs) at the not often run 6K distance.

“I was thrilled with the men’s race,” head coach Jeff Stiles said. “We put our fifth runner in front of where our second runner was two years ago when we qualified for NCAAs. We really demonstrated that qualifying for the NCAAs on the men’s side is very realistic.”

The women’s team opened its season on a very different note from the men. Coming off a third-place finish at the NCAA meet last year where three runners received All-American Citations, the team lost four of its top runners, while several of the remaining top underclassmen opened the season plagued with injuries. 2007 UAA Rookie of the Year Taryn Surtees sat out the race, as did junior Molly Schlamb, who also ran at NCAAs last year, junior Colleen Davis, sophomore Kelli Blake, who received an All-American citation in the distance medley relay at last year’s NCAA indoor track championships meet and top recruit Liz Phillips.

Different runners stepped up and took the place of those missing from the lineup. Graduate student Angela Hartman led the team with a 24th place finish while senior Hillary Superak, junior Hope Rathnam, a member of the NCAA team last year, and freshman Hannah Fox finished right on Hartman’s tail in 25th, 26th and 27th places, respectively. Freshman Erica Jackey rounded out the rest of the scorers in 29th place. Four out of the Bears’ top five recorded PRs at the also unstandard 4K distance.

A highlight of the meet for all of the Red and Green competitors was that several alumni put together teams on both the men’s and women’s sides. Both teams placed second overall. All-American Greg Reindl (2006), paced the men’s team, finishing third overall, while Jesse McDaniel (2008) was seventh. Tyler Small (1998) finished 13th while Joe Guinness (2008) and Matt Hoelle (2004), an Academic All-American, finished 26th and 28th.

Three-time All-American Beth Herndon (2007) and four-time All-American Maggie Grabow (2005), both two-time UAA Cross Country Runners of the Year, were the stars on the women’s team, taking first and second overall in the women’s race. Erica Schoeller, a friend of several of the Wash. U. runners, finished 15th, and Lisa Sudmeier (2008) finished 18th while Abbey Hartmann (2008) finished 23rd to round out the scorers.

“Our alumni were simply awesome,” Stiles said. “They reinforce that we are a family and that once you are a part of the family, you are always an important thought. The alumni are the ones that have laid the foundation of hard work, traditions and success.”

The Bears return to action Saturday, September 13 at the Les Duke Invitational in Grinnell, Iowa where they hope to return on their opening performances.

“We are really just now starting to train hard,” Hartley said. “The point is to get through September healthy and test our fitness. We are getting to work now.”

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