The NMU cross country team opens its 2009 schedule at the U.P. Collegiate Cross Country Opener Friday (Aug. 28) at Michigan Tech.
MARQUETTE, Mich. - This year’s edition of the Northern Michigan University cross country team will be looking to rebound after a somewhat disappointing season from a year ago. The Wildcats finished in eighth place at the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Cross Country Championships. Returning this year for the ‘Cats are the majority of the team from last year plus a couple of runners who redshirted.
Bibiane Mahy and Jennifer Wiedmeyer redshirted last year and will run for the ‘Cats this year. Both are seniors. “I think we will have a pretty good team this year,” said Jenny Ryan, NMU head cross country coach.
Nora Kiilunen, a sophomore, was the top placing ‘Cat at the 2008 GLIAC Championships as she covered the course in a time of 24:00.3 which was good for 37th. Another sophomore, Stephanie Enderby returns as does Christina Gillis a senior. Three more runners who were on the front line for the ‘Cats last year return. Erin McCulloch, Megan Hendershot and Kristen Schulz were top runners for NMU.
Freshmen and transfers are going to play a big part of the team this year. Look for Cara Crawford, Rita Woitas, Olivia Juntila, Katherine Holway and Marie-Helen Soderman to help the ‘Cats improve and move up in the standings. “This is a much improved team,” said Ryan.
Ryan’s goals for this year’s squad are not that far out of the question if all the runners can come together. “We should be in the top five in the GLIAC for sure with a possibility of a top three finish,” said Ryan. For the ‘Cats to qualify for the NCAA Division II National Championships they must place in the top four at regionals. Ryan thinks that the ‘Cats could be right on the edge of qualifying. “I think we have a pretty good shot,” said Ryan.
The ‘Cats schedule is challenging with breaks built in. NMU opens up the season at Michigan Tech (Aug. 28) with the U.P. Collegiate Cross Country Opener, then it is the Lake Superior State Open (Sept. 12), the Midwest Collegiate Championships (Sept. 19), the Roy Griak Invitational (Sept. 26), the U.P. Championships hosted by NMU (Oct. 9), the GLIAC Championships (Oct. 24) and the NCAA Division II Regional Championships (Nov. 7). “The early schedule will give us a good idea where we stand,” said Ryan.
With the combination of the returners plus the newcomers the ‘Cats should be a much improved team. The team is loaded with the talent to move the ‘Cats up a couple of places in the GLIAC race.
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