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August 29, 2001
USI Men's Cross Country Outlook: Attitude Wins Championship
The University of Southern Indiana men’s cross country team wants to recapture the swagger it had in the 1980s and early 1990s. The first step to regaining that intimidating presence on the cross country course is to win the Great Lakes Valley Conference Championship.
The last time USI captured the GLVC title was in 1991, exactly 10 years ago, at Joe Creason Park in Louisville, Kentucky, the sight of the 2001 championship.
“The thing that I like about this team is the attitude,” said USI Head Coach Mike Hillyard. “This team is far more talented than we were in 1991, but talent does not win championships and these guys understand that.”
Leading the way for the Eagles will be sophomore Joey Byrne (Georgetown, Kentucky). The transfer from the University of Louisville sat out the 2000-01 year, but made the most of his extended layoff by recording a personal best of 24:38 for an 8k last fall as an unattached runner. “Joey brings a lot to the team both in terms of raw ability and leadership,” said Hillyard. “He has lofty goals for this season and he has paid the price to attain them.”
He will rejoin high school teammate Miles Krieger (Floyds Knobs, Indiana), a junior who has shared 90-to-100 mile training weeks with Byrne over the summer months. The Eagles are expecting a rebounding year from Krieger after he recorded a 10k personal best of 31:39 on the track in 2001. His accomplishments on the track were even more spectacular considering he missed winter base training due to illness.
The Eagles and Hillyard also will expect a strong return from sophomore Doug Schwartz (Centralia, Illinois). Schwartz, who was USI’s third-best runner all season, placed 16th in the NCAA Division II Great Lakes Regional, despite training for only six weeks due to an injury.
Hillyard said, “Last summer Doug ran zero miles. This summer he has put in over 500 and we expect him to be at least a minute better over the 10k which would put him at the font of the pack at the regionals.”
Senior Jeff Rumsey (Rising Sun, Indiana) and junior Mark Thurner (Hebron, Indiana) also have picked up their training regimen. Rumsey finished third at the GLVC indoor championships in both the 3k and 5k while Thurner scored in both the steeplechase and 5k at the outdoor championships.
USI has sophomore Matt Cronch (Valparaiso, Indiana) and sophomore Lance Sluder (Fairbanks, Indiana) round out the top seven. Cronch was a top-five performer on three different occasions last fall and will contend for a top-five spot again this fall. Sluder, who ran third for USI in his first collegiate meet in 1999, was sidelined by injuries the last 18 months, but appears to be healthy and ready for the fall.
New to USI this fall are freshmen Chris Swisher (Milan, Indiana) and Danny Fisher (Nashville, Indiana). Swisher captured the Indiana State 1600m title last spring with a time of 4:16.6. Hillyard said, “Up until the state meet, Chris and Danny were the two best-kept secrets in Indiana. Danny is still a secret, but not for long.”
Ray Simmons, USI Sports Information