By Chad Hensley, NKU Sports Information

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. – The Great Lakes Valley Conference cross country regular season has been completed, and the Northern Kentucky University squads have their sites set for the GLVC Championships on Saturday.

The Norse will be trying to dethrone defending champions Southern Indiana (men) and Wisconsin-Parkside (women).

USI is the three-time defending men’s team champion and is favored to win this season in what will be a tightly contested eight-kilometer race. The Screaming Eagles also have 15 total championships, the most in GLVC men’s cross country history.

Norse head Coach Steve Kruse spoke highly of the men’s competition in the GLVC: “USI is the team to beat as they have more conference championships than any other team and are very well coached.

“Drury has some serious talent and I am very interested to see them first hand. Each team in our conference has an individual or two that must be taken seriously and the all conference list will fill up quickly after the first runner crosses the finish line.”

UWP will be looking to extend their streak in the six-kilometer event to five straight and eight out of the last nine. The Rangers are currently ranked in the top 20 but the USI women’s team, which is ranked seventh nationally, is favored to win the meet.

“USI very strong up front and will be followed by UW-Parkside. From there, it can be one of many teams filling in the rest of the order. We hope to be one of the top teams and if all of our runners do well, who knows what could happen,” Kruse said.

The GLVC Championships will be contested on the Missouri S&T Golf Course in Rolla, Mo. Recent rainfall in the Rolla area will make for soft and potentially soggy conditions.

“[The conference meet] will be an excellent indicator of where our teams stand for the Midwest Regional in two weeks at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Mich., which also happens to be on a golf course. Both teams have some lofty goals and we have prepared well for them,” said Kruse, who is in his 15th season at the helm of the Norse harriers.

With a schedule that was peppered with races against all levels of competition, including some of the best teams in all three NCAA divisions and the NAIA, the Norse are certainly a battle-tested group.

Harris-ing the course: Drew Harris, a sophomore from Alexandria, Ky., has been NKU’s top harrier the entire season. The Campbell County High School graduate now owns five of the top 25 eight-kilometer times in Norse history.

For his accomplishments throughout the season, Harris was twice named the GLVC Runner of the Week. Harris’ time of 24:47.69 at the Greater Louisville Classic on Oct. 7 was not only a personal best, it was the fastest time of the season of any GLVC harrier.

Zach-Attack: Zach Koehler is in the process of returning to his 2007 form after missing part of the season with an injury. Koehler has raced in the team’s final three events and has had times that have been good enough to crack the Norse all-time list twice.

Siem-less Transition: For her first two seasons at NKU, Jenna Siemer had to run in the shadows of Julianne Hoekzema, but has transitioned herself into the role of leader.

Siemer, a junior from Villa Hills, Ky., has been Kruse’s top female finisher all season and has also etched her name in the Norse record books alongside some of the program’s greats. Siemer currently owns the fourth fastest six-kilometer time in team history with a 18:45.16 performance at the Greater Louisville Classic.

Midwest Regional Rankings: Both NKU squads are ranked in the top eight of the Midwest Region. The men currently hold the fifth-place position while the women are sitting at the no.-8 slot. Grand Valley State and USI are the top two teams respectively in both the men’s and women’s polls.

NCAA DII National Rankings: The NKU men’s squad currently is the 22nd-ranked team in the nation - five slots lower than last week. Adams State College of Alamosa, Colo., is the top school for both the men and women in the Division II ranks.

GLVC Championship race times: The men’s eight-kilometer race will begin at 10:30 a.m. Eastern time, while the women’s six-kilometer race commences at 11:30 a.m.