NKU head coach
Ky. - The task will not be an easy one for the Northern Kentucky
University men's cross country team, but head coach Steve Kruse
is focused on attaining a lofty goal for his Norse harriers in 2006.
wants to finally move into the top four or better of the Great Lakes
Valley Conference, but this will not be an easy task as the GLVC
continues to improve," said Kruse, who is entering his 13th
season as NKU's head coach.
a more challenging schedule this season, seeking out Division II
competition the last half of the year. We will once again depend
on our strong pack in hopes that they will be able to finish in
the top 10 to 20 percent of any race in which we compete.”
NKU placed sixth
at last season's GLVC Championships, but the Norse return six key
runners and add a talented freshman. Kruse said he is pleased with
the combination of experience and talent.
our returning runners have varsity experience and a good understanding
of what must be done if we are to be successful. Keeping injuries
to a minimum is also essential," Kruse said. "(Incoming
freshman) Reggie Bieger should be a nice fit to the varsity squad.
The biggest obstacle is training smart and saving something for
the end of the season. Some of our practices become so competitive
that we deplete ourselves for the meets.
to improve upon our sixth-place GLVC finish and look to crack the
top 10 in the regional for the first time since 1985."
NKU will feature
junior Keith Knapp, a graduate of Lloyd High School. Knapp enjoyed
a fine sophomore campaign and became the first Norse harrier to
ever earn GLVC Runner of the Week honors last fall. Knapp placed
25th at last year's GLVC Championships.
(front) will lead NKU
is sophomore Zach Koehler, a graduate of Ryle High School who put
together a solid first year with NKU. Kruse is expecting much from
both Knapp and Koehler.
Knapp has been one of our best runners over the last two years,
and Zach Koehler should challenge for our top spot immediately,"
Kruse said. "Matthew Shoulta will also be one of our go-to
guys. Adam Stoppelwerth and Brad Bullock figure to be solid varsity
runners. Reggie Bieger, Allen Pettigrew and Breylen Derrick should
round out the varsity team.
being the lone senior and team captain, will no doubt have his best
season yet. All of these runners come from vastly different backgrounds,
but they form a unique group that is fun, yet very capable."
NKU will once
again take on a challenging schedule, beginning at the University
of Dayton's Flyer 5K on Sept. 2.
(The Dayton Flyer 5K) is traditionally a Division I meet, and all
of the teams offer very strong cross country programs. If we do
as well as we did last year at that meet, it will be an omen for
many good things to come," Kruse said.
meet in Florida promises to bring in some top Division II teams
from all over the country, followed by the Border-wars meet at Edwardsville,
which is shaping up to be a pre-GLVC meet."
proved costly for the NKU women's cross country team in 2005. A
season which started with high expectations ended with a 13th-place
finish at the NCAA II Great Lakes Regional meet. NKU also placed
fifth at the GLVC Championships.
NKU must now
replace standout runner Tracy Carskadon, and the Norse will have
no seniors on the team.
young, but there is more talent in this group than we have ever
had on one women’s team," Kruse said. "With no seniors,
it will be a challenge steering this group through the season, but
talent alone should take us further than last year's squad.
was filled with injuries, and it cost us dearly the entire fall.
I am cautiously optimistic, because anything can happen with a young
group. We will certainly miss Tracy Carskadon, but we have better
depth this year. Improvement should be a given for this season."
NKU will rely
on Julianne Hoekzema. The junior from Fairfield, Ohio, earned All-GLVC
honors last season by placing fourth at the conference meet. A graduate
of Hamilton Badin High School, Hoekzema completed the course in
21:22, and the fourth-place finish at the GLVC Championships was
the best in school history.
our top runner at every meet last year, and Julianne is looking
to take this young team to heights never attempted," Kruse
said, noting Hoekzema is also coming back from an injury she suffered
during track last spring.
Geiger, Lindsey Bendure and Terri Arlinghaus will also play a big
part in team leadership this fall. With potentially 10 new runners
in NKU jerseys this fall, they will have to coordinate their leadership
capabilities for this team to gel."
was NKU’s first female track & field All-GLVC runner this
past spring on the Norse club team and is looking to improve dramatically
this fall as a cross country performer. Kruse said incoming freshmen
Alisha Hansman (Highlands HS) and Jenna Siemer (St. Henry HS) bring
the experience of winning state championships to the program.
School graduate Nina Vaughn should provide a boost to the team as
well. Kira Cooper (Lloyd HS) and Janice Laker (Batesville HS) will
also be contributing factors, according to Kruse.
program has never placed in the top 10 of the regional meet,"
Kruse said, "but I like the odds of that happening this year."