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Women's Cross Country/Track and Field

January 19, 2006

Eagles enter 2006 track season with uncertainty

EVANSVILLE, Ind.The University of Southern Indiana women's track and field team starts the 2006 indoor season Saturday at the Wabash Alumni Invitational in Crawfordsville, Indiana, with a bit of uncertainty.

USI, at least for the indoor season, will be without senior Heather Cooksey (Brownsburg, Indiana), who is going to red-shirt during the winter season. Coupled with the loss of Candace Perry, who transferred after winning the national championship in the long jump last spring, the Screaming Eagles will be without 24 of the 25 points that led them to an eighth-place finish at the 2005 NCAA II Outdoor Championships.

The Eagles, however, do have three All-Americans in place to lead the squad into the 2006 season. Senior Crystal Stock (Mt. Vernon, Indiana) along with juniors Missy Burgin (Sellersburg, Indiana) and Natalie Clark (Newburgh, Indiana) earned All-America honors after leading USI's Distance Medley Relay team to a fifth-place performance at the NCAA II Indoor Championships. That DMR team also won the GLVC title in record-setting time.

Burgin had a solid spring season, winning the GLVC Championship and finishing 15th at the NCAA II Outdoor Championships in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Clark, one of the top sprinters in the GLVC, struggled during her sophomore season but still finished fourth at the GLVC Outdoor Championships in the 400 meters.

Other returnees that will make an impact this season for the Screaming Eagles is senior Laura Helhowski (Hebron, Indiana) as well as juniors Molly Gilland (Osgood, Indiana) and Carrie Leimberger (Indianapolis, Indiana).

Helhowski earned All-GLVC honors in the 3,000-meter steeplechase a year ago and is aiming for an NCAA II qualifying mark in 2006. Leimberger will focus on the mile during the indoor season before shooting for an NCAA II provisional mark in the 5,000 meters during the outdoor season. Gilland earned All-GLVC honors in the high jump as a freshman and must make up for the loss of USI's record-setting high jumper, Abby Boberg, who decided not to return for her senior season.

USI also is looking to freshmen Allison Shafer (Plainville, Indiana), Christy Dixon (Owensboro, Kentucky), and Lyndsay Overton (Sellersburg, Indiana) to bring in new points to the Eagles' line up. Shafer, the GLVC Cross Country Freshman of the Year, will be shooting for NCAA II qualifying standards in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters, while Dixon will be aiming for a provisional mark in the 1,500 meters. Overton will focus on the 800 and 1,500 meters and will contend for a spot, along with Dixon, on the DMR this winter.

USI competes in six meets prior to the GLVC Indoor Championships, which takes place February 25 in Crawfordsville, Indiana. The NCAA II Indoor Championships are March 10-11 in Boston, Massachusetts.

The Eagles open the outdoor schedule March 25 at the Spring Classic in Carbondale, Illinois, and compete in six meets prior to the GLVC Outdoor Championships, which takes place May 5-6 in Rensselaer, Indiana. The NCAA II Outdoor Championships are May 25-27 in Emporia, Kansas.

Dan McDonnell,
USI Sports Information

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