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Men's Cross Country/Track and Field

August 27, 2008

Eagles start quest for fourth straight GLVC title,
Host Stegemoller Classic Saturday

EVANSVILLE, Ind.—The University of Southern Indiana men's cross country team opens the 2008 season Saturday when it hosts the Stegemoller Classic at the USI Cross Country Course (located at the Broadway Intramural/Softball Complex). The women's 4k race begins at 6 p.m., while the men's 6k race starts at 6:30 p.m.

The Stegemoller Classic—which features USI, Brescia University, and Southeast Missouri State University—was named after the cross country program's founder, USI and GLVC Hall of Fame Coach Bill Stegemoller. Stegemoller, who retired from coaching in 1998, passed away in March of 2007 following a bout with cancer.

Both Brescia and Southeast Missouri are under the direction of former USI assistant coaches—Nathan Christianson and Miles Krieger. Christianson recently took over Brescia's program, while Krieger is in his third year at the helm of Southeast Missouri's program.

In 2008, the Screaming Eagles will have a different look as they begin their quest for a fourth straight GLVC title and fifth in the last six years. USI's 15 GLVC championships are the most by any program in any conference sport.

Gone are four runners from USI's top seven that it took to the 2007 NCAA II Cross Country Championships, where it finished eighth. Add to the fact that the Eagles are red-shirting All-American Tim Sirbek (Hammond, Indiana), and 12th-year Head Coach and seven-time GLVC Coach of the Year Mike Hillyard will have his work cut out for him.

Hillyard, however, does not have a lack of talented runners; just a new crop of talented runners to develop into what he hopes will be USI's league-record 16th GLVC championship squad.

Seniors Sam Gebreselassie (Avon, Indiana), Bryan Phillips (Kokomo, Indiana), and Rob Roads (Terre Haute, Indiana) will be counted on to provide leadership in 2008. Gebreselassie, who sat out last year, has experience on the national level, while Roads is coming off a solid track season that saw him post an NCAA II provisional mark in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.

Phillips could challenge for USI's top spot in 2008 after sitting out the 2007 season. Phillips was a national qualifier at NCAA Division I Butler University as a sophomore in 2005 before earning All-Region honors at NCAA Division III Anderson University as a junior in 2006.

Hillyard also will count on a talented group of juniors that include Brandon Campbell (Portage, Indiana), Andrew Menner (Greenwood, Indiana), and Matthew Zielske (Elkhart, Indiana) to lead Eagles this season. Campbell is an All-GLVC performer on the track and has experience on the national level, while Menner ranked in the top 10 of the GLVC in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters last spring. Zielske was a top-five performer for the Eagles on multiple occasions last season.

Sophomores Andrew Dixon (Petersburg, Indiana) and Justin Kendrick (Ellettsville, Indiana) also could challenge for spots in USI's top seven this year. Dixon competed at the NCAA II Championships last fall, while Kendrick was hampered by injuries during his first year at USI.

Freshman David Goodman (Valparaiso, Indiana) could be USI's top returner in 2008 after a stellar campaign during the indoor and outdoor track seasons. Goodman, who did not compete on the cross country course last fall, was the GLVC Freshman of the Year in both indoor and outdoor track.

Newcomers that should challenge for spots in the top seven include freshmen Brendan Devine (Bethel, New York), Dustin Emerick (Elmwood, Illinois), Kiel Lovekin (LaPorte, Indiana), and Bryan Suarez (Okeechobee, Florida).

Devine finished second in the Class A New York State Cross Country Championships as a senior at Monticello High School (Monticello, New York) last fall, while Emerick was third in the Class A Illinois State Cross Country Championships as a senior at Elmwood High School in 2007.

Lovekin earned All-State honors at LaPorte High School, helping LHS to a second-place finish at the 2007 IHSAA State Cross Country Championships. Suarez, who graduated from Okeechobee High School, finished third at the Class 3A Florida State Cross Country Championships last year.

Following the Stegemoller Classic, the Eagles will compete at the Indiana Intercollegiates in Bloomington, Indiana September 19, the Louisville Cardinal Classic October 4, and the Evansville Invitational October 18. The GLVC Championships are October 25 in Rolla, Missouri, while the NCAA II Midwest Region Championships are November 8 in Big Rapids, Michigan. The NCAA II National Championships are November 22 in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania.

Dan McDonnell,
USI Sports Information

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