Reclaiming the top spot
Getting back in stride. That is what the University of Southern Indiana’s women's cross country team wants to do in 2002.
Between 1998 and 2000, the Screaming Eagles dominated the Great Lakes Valley Conference with two league titles in four seasons and was one of the top squads in the Great Lakes Region, winning the NCAA II Great Lakes Region championship in 1999. The Eagles missed a stride in 2001, placing seventh in the GLVC and out of the top 10 of the region; but watch for the team under sixth year Head Coach Mike Hillyard to regain the smooth stride which made it a championship contender.
The good news that came out of a tough 2001 season was the development of several young runners. Leading the way for the returning runners are sophomores Casey Schneider (New Salisbury, Indiana) and Cassie Bartelt (Huntingburg, Indiana).
Schneider led the Eagles in every meet in 2001, earning All-GLVC honors with a 10th-place showing at the GLVC Championships. Schneider's top finish was a second at the Stegemoller Classic with a top time of 23:00.0 in the 6k Indiana State Invitational.
Bartelt was very consistent for the Eagles finishing either second or third at every meet. Bartelt had a top finish of 16th in the Chris Jones Invitational.
The biggest plus for the returning runners is the come-back of junior Jenny Farmer (Princeton, Indiana), an All-GLVC and All-Region performer. Farmer, who missed last fall due to injury, has qualified for five different national championship meets out of the last seven chances in cross country and track.
Farmer was 55th in the NCAA II cross country nationals after placing sixth in the Great Lakes Regional in 2000.
In addition to the return of Farmer, the Eagles also bring back senior Erin Oxendine and junior Jaclyn Franchville (Tell City, Indiana). Oxendine was only able to run in the GLVC Championships as a junior, placing 59th, while Franchville ran in four meets for the Eagles, recording a season-best finish of 38th at the Chris Jones Invitational. Rouse is expected to challenge for a spot in the top seven this fall.
To reload the squad for a run at returning to the top of the GLVC and the Great Lakes Region, Hillyard has added four top-notch freshmen athletes and a Division I transfer.
Signing first with the Eagles was freshman Sunny Hipple (Corydon, Indiana). Hipple was All-Conference, All-Sectional, All-Regional, and a semi-state qualifier in cross country. An outstanding athlete, Hipple is a Corydon County High School record-holder in the 800m and honorable mention All-State in basketball.
Another great find for the Eagles is freshman Lydia Flora (North Manchester, Indiana). Flora earned nine letters in track, cross country, swimming, and diving during her prep career. She set the Manchester High School two-mile record with a time of 12:09.
Joining the squad in June was freshmen Jessica Jones (Rockport, Indiana).
Jones is a four-time most valuable runner for South Spencer High School’s cross country team. She was an honorable mention All-State selection in cross country and a member of the 2000 Pocket Athletic Conference champions. Jones also was a one-time most valuable runner for SSHS’s track team.
Rounding out the freshman class is Heather Cooksey (Brownsburg, Indiana). Cooksey, who has the potential to join Farmer and Schneider at the front of the GLVC pack, posted an 10:57 time in the 3200m and was a member of the All-State 3200m relay team at Brownsburgh High School as a senior.
Transferring to USI from Indiana University is Laura Helhowski (Hebron, Indiana), who ran for the Hoosiers' cross country and track teams last year. Her best time in cross country was an 18:33 in the 5k Illinois Invitational and 23:39.9 in the 6k Roy Griak Invitational.
Prior to her collegiate experience, Helhowski was an All-State performer at Hebron High School as a junior. She also was a state qualifier in the mile as a sophomore and junior at HHS.
The Eagles begin the cross country season with the Belmont Opener on Friday, September 6, and then jump into the thick of the season with Indiana Intercollegiates at Indiana University on Friday, September 20. Following USI's only home meet of the year, the Stegemoller Classic on Saturday, October 5, the Eagles have the GLVC Championships on Saturday, October 26, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and the NCAA Division II Great Lakes Regional in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on Saturday, November 9.
The NCAA II Championship meet will be Saturday, November 23, in Ashland, Ohio.