Top three looks to push Eagles to top of Pack
Goals are high as the University of Southern Indiana womenís
cross country team enters the 2003 season. The Screaming Eagles, who advanced to
the NCAA II National Championships in 2002, return the GLVCís top three runners.
The Eagles finished second at the GLVC Championships last season after their runners comprised three of the top seven finishers. USI went on to finish fifth at the NCAA II Great Lakes Regional Championships, qualifying for the NCAA II National Championships for the first time since 1999.
Leading the Eagles into the 2003 campaign is senior Jenny Farmer (Princeton, Indiana). Farmer, a three-time All-Great Lakes Region and two-time All-GLVC performer in cross country, is coming off an outdoor track and field season in which she won a pair of All-America awards. She placed fifth and sixth, respectively, in the 5,000 meters and 3,000 meters at the 2003 NCAA II Outdoor Championships.
Joining Farmer is sophomore Heather Cooksey (Brownsburg, Indiana). Cooksey was a dominating runner for the Eagles as a freshman, sweeping the GLVC ďFreshman of the YearĒ honors and earning All-America honors after finishing second in both the 3,000 and 5,000 meters at the NCAA II Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
After finishing sixth at the GLVC Cross Country Championships in 2002, Cooksey came into her own during the track and field season, setting school records in the indoor mile as well as the outdoor 3,000 and 5,000 meters. Cooksey also won two individual GLVC championships and was a member of USIís GLVC champion distance medley relay team during the track and field seasons.
Rounding out USIís top three runners is two-time All-GLVC and All-Region performer Casey Schneider (New Salisbury, Indiana). Schneider finished third in the 2002 GLVC Championships a year ago and will be one of the favorites to compete for a GLVC title in 2003.
During the 2002 outdoor track and field season, Schneiderís endurance showed as she shattered the school record in the 10,000 meters with her NCAA II qualifying time of 36:36.60. Schneider went on to finish 12th at the 2002 NCAA II Outdoor Championships.
After red-shirting in 2002, freshman Jessica Hein (Ft. Wayne, Indiana) figures to challenge USIís top three and should be a solid four for the Eagles in 2003. Hein, who placed fifth at the 2001 IHSAA Cross Country Manchester Semi-State Championships with a 4k time of 14:39, helped Carroll High School to the 2001 semi-state, regional, and sectional championships. She set the CHS 4k record with her time of 14:16.
Battling it out for USIís five through seven spots will be juniors Laura Helhowski (Hebron, Indiana) and Cassie Bartelt (Huntingburg, Indiana) as well as sophomore Lydia Flora (North Manchester, Indiana).
Bartelt finished in USIís top four three times last season, while Helhowski was USIís fourth runner to cross the finish line at the NCAA II Great Lakes Regional Championships and NCAA II Championships in 2002. Flora finished 21st at the Indiana Intercollegiate with a 5k time of 20:28.00.
Other returnees that could challenge USIís top seven include sophomores Jennifer Finch (Warsaw, Indiana) and Jessica Jones (Rockport, Indiana). Both saw limited action as freshmen, but, with a strong off-season workout program, could become a factor as sophomores in 2003.
A newcomer that has potential to be USIís number three or four runner this season is freshman Lindsey Miller (New Castle, Indiana). Miller earned All-North Central Conference honors in track and field, cross country, and basketball at New Castle Chrysler High School. The younger sister to Butler University standout guard Brandon Miller, Lindsey Miller won the 2002 NCC and sectional championships in the 800 meters.
Freshmen Melissa Burgin (Sellersburg, Indiana) and Carrie Leimberger (Indianapolis, Indiana) also could challenge USIís top seven in 2003. Burgin was a three-time All-Hoosier Hills Conference performer and member of the 1999 All-State team at New Albany High School. She helped NAHSís cross country team to a pair of conference championships, four sectional championships, three regional championships, and a semi-state title.
Leimberger ran the 4k at Franklin Central High School in 15:38.00 and helped FCHS three top-10 finishes at the IHSAA Cross Country Championships. Her talent led her to the 2002 county championship in cross country and also helped FCHSís cross country team to four sectional and three regional championships.
USIís 2003 campaign will start Friday, September 5, when the Eagles travel to Nashville, Tennessee to take part in the Belmont Opener. The Eagles finished third in last seasonís Belmont Opener and will look for a similar performance this season in preparation for the Indiana Intercollegiate, slated for Friday, September 19.
The Eagles won the small college championship at the Indiana Intercollegiate last season and will look to do the same in 2003 as the event has moved to Terre Haute, Indiana.
A week later, USI will embark on a trip to Cary, North Carolina, the site of the 2003 NCAA II National Championships, to partake in the Great American Cross Country Festival.
After competing in the Illinois/Missouri Border Wars on October 11, USI will travel across town a week later to compete in the Evansville Invitational.
The Eagles will get their chance to win their first GLVC title since 1999 Saturday, October 25, as they travel to Romeoville, Illinois, for the GLVC Championships.
Two weeks later, the Eagles will have the opportunity to qualify for nationals for the fifth time in school history as they travel to Allendale, Michigan, for the NCAA II Great Lakes Regional Championships.
The NCAA II National Championships will be held Saturday, November 22.