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Women's Cross Country/Track and Field

August 27, 2008

Eagles open 2008 season with GLVC title on mind,
Host Stegemoller Classic Saturday

EVANSVILLE, Ind.—The University of Southern Indiana women'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 2007, the Screaming Eagles defied all odds, after losing their top two returning runners to preseason injuries, and qualified for the NCAA II National Championships, where they finished 19th.

This season, the expectations are high as 12th-year Head Coach and seven-time GLVC Coach of the Year Mike Hillyard will have a pair of cross country All-Americans on the roster, marking the first time in the program's history that two cross country All-Americans have run for the Eagles at the same time.

Junior Mary Ballinger (Chesterton, Indiana) was an All-American in cross country last season after finishing 17th at the NCAA II National Championships. Fellow classmate Allison Shafer (Plainville, Indiana), who sat out last season due to injury, was an All-American as a sophomore in 2006 after finishing 15th at the NCAA II National Championships. Shafer also was the GLVC champion in 2006.

Both Ballinger and Shafer have excelled on the track, each earning All-America honors. Ballinger was the NCAA II national runner-up in the 5,000 meters during the indoor season last winter, while Shafer earned All-America honors in both indoor and outdoor track during the 2007 season.

In addition to Ballinger and Shafer, Hillyard will look to senior Marcia Weflen (Rossville, Indiana) and a deep junior class to push the Eagles over the top in 2008. Weflen stepped up her performance in 2007, becoming USI's number two runner for most of the season.

Included in USI's junior class is Sarah Baysden (Shelbyville, Indiana), the 2007 GLVC outdoor track champion in the 10,000 meters; Christy Dixon (Owensboro, Kentucky), an All-GLVC performer on the track; Sarah Whiteman (Bloomington, Indiana), a runner with national experience that finished 12th at the GLVC Championships last fall; and Lacy Williams (Haubstadt, Indiana), a top-five runner with national experience.

Hillyard also has a talented sophomore class that includes Holly Bartelt (Huntingburg, Indiana), Heather Beard (Westfield, Indiana), and Leslee Getts (Corunna, Indiana). Bartelt was a top-five runner for the Eagles during her freshman year in 2007, while Getts's was 19th at the 2007 NCAA II Great Lakes Region Championships. Beard was hampered by injuries last season, but should be a factor on this season's squad.

USI's list of newcomers includes freshmen Allie Baumer (Carmel, Indiana), Adrienne Curtis (Louisville, Kentucky), Jackie Henderson (Schererville, Indiana), and Brittany Rutledge (Westfield, Indiana). Baumer helped Carmel High School to a fourth-place finish at the 2007 IHSAA Cross Country Championships, while Curtis helped lead Assumption High School (Louisville) to the KHSAA Class 3A Cross Country championship.

Henderson was a member of the 2007 Nike Team National Midwest Regional championship squad at Lake Central High School (St. John, Indiana) and earned honorable mention All-State honors as a senior in 2007. Rutledge did not compete in her first year at USI, but is expected to be a major contributor for the Eagles in 2008 after solid off-season workouts.

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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