Sept. 2, 2004
NKU RUNNERS AIM FOR IMPROVEMENT
Norse women to feature Carskadon in 2004
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. - Northern Kentucky University cross country head coach Steve Kruse is optimistic that 2004 will be a breakthrough season for both his Norse womens and mens teams.
Kruses womens team will feature All-Great Lakes Valley Conference performer Tracy Carskadon, a talented junior runner. The Norse also add five newcomers, including a transfer from Valparaiso University who should make an immediate impact.
After a disappointing year last fall, with unexpected attrition and injuries, the core of the team is much more stable this season, said Kruse, who is entering his 11th year as the head coach at NKU.
With seven runners on the roster, health is going to be a major concern, he added, but if we can stick together and work as one, hosting the GLVC Championships could provide many special moments for the Lady Norse this year.
NKUs top returnee is Carskadon, who posted an eighth-place finish at the GLVC Championships last fall. Carskadon, a graduate of Oak Hills High School, completed the six-kilometer course in 24:00 to place eighth and earn All-GLVC honors.
Tracy is our co-captain this season, and she is looking to pick up where she left off, Kruse said, noting Carskadon became the first NKU womens cross country runner to earn All-GLVC honors last fall.
Lisa Sand, another co-captain this fall, also returns for the Norse. Rachel Stoehr, a transfer from Valparaiso, will be a key for NKU this year.
Rachel should be one of our top runners this year, and she should help the less experienced runners get in the groove that much faster, Kruse said. Lisa has reported to practice in shape and ready to go. She should continually progress through the year as she goes from training mode to racing mode.
Kruse said he is also counting on Sarah Eggleston, Samantha Geiger, Julianne Hoekzema and Holly Johnson as NKU seeks to improve on its fifth-place finish at the GLVC Championships.
Sarah Eggleston has a great work ethic and will be a solid varsity runner in her first year, Kruse said. Samantha Geiger was a multi-sport athlete at Simon Kenton with moments of greatness in her past. She will look to steadily improve as the season progresses.
Julianne Hoekzema is a versatile athlete in track and should immediately challenge for a top spot at NKU. Holly Johnson had a successful high school career at Bishop Brossart. She has been away from running for a couple years, so this will be a challenging year for her to see if she can regain her past magic.
Kruse also expects his mens team to be improved this fall. In fact, the NKU head coach is certain his program - which has finished last in the GLVC the past three years - is on the road to being a factor not only in the conference but also the regional meet.
A different attitude and completely retooled team will take the first steps in a long ultra-marathon that will bring this program back to the glory days of the 1970s and early 80s, when Norse cross country was feared in the region and respected on the national stage, Kruse said. With so many talented runners pushing each other on a daily basis, all will improve and the team will benefit greatly.
NKUs roster of 16 men includes a nice mix of experience and youth. NKU co-captain Greaham Niemer leads the list of returning letterwinners for the Norse.
Greaham leads by example both in the classroom and in athletic arena, Kruse said. He is a tireless worker who knows what it is to dedicate himself completely, and he has experienced that hard work can bring great rewards if done smartly. Greaham will be among the top runners for our team all season.
Kruses recruiting class includes prep standouts Keith Knapp, Brad Bullock and Adam Stoppelwerth, a trio of freshmen who will contribute to the program immediately.
Keith Knapp is a multi-talented athlete with a tenacious competitive streak, and he will challenge for a top spot immediately, Kruse said of the former Lloyd High School star.
Adam Stoppelwerth is another top recruit who chose NKU this year, and he will challenge for a top varsity spot right away, Kruse added. Adam is a race-day runner and will do what he has to in the event to be among the top runners.
Brad Bullock is one of the best recruits we have this year, and he should also challenge for a top spot once he figures out how to run the longer races.
NKU will open the season this Saturday at the University of Dayton Invitational. The Norse will then play host to the NKU Invitational the following Friday (Sept. 10) at A.J. Jolly Park in Alexandria, Ky.