Cross country to open season with meet on home soil


It’s stampede season

Excitement for the men’s and women’s cross country teams has reached a crescendo as the upcoming season rapidly approaches.

After finishing 19th at the NCAA Division II Nationals and 12th at regionals in 2013, both teams are looking to make a splash at the 2014 national tournament in Louisville, Ky. to end the season.

“Last year was a transition year, from the former head coach to this coaching staff, and it was successful overall with the exception that we lost the conference championship by one point,” said Brian Schiding, second year head coach.

“Nineteenth in the nation isn’t bad, but we expect to be considerably better,” he said. “We should have a very strong team this year.”

Women’s head coach Patty Vavra is also looking forward to the upcoming season.

“We’ve got a great nucleus returning from last year,” said Vavra. “Our goals are always to try to win the conference championship and to qualify for the national championship and place well there.”

The first meet of the season will be the First to the Finish Southern Stampede on Saturday, Sept. 20.  More than 2,000 runners from 50 high schools and 50 colleges from around the Midwest will compete.

“It’s always good to finally put the uniform on and compete against people other than your teammates,” said All-American hopeful Eric Schott, senior.

“It’s also great to be able to get a read on where we sit early in the season and can help to see where we need to work on things,” he said.

Senior Andrew Webster is also eager to compete at the Stampede after having to sit out the event last year.

“I didn’t get to race it last year because of injury, and that was awful,” he said. “It’ll be my last shot at competing at my home course under colors.”

Senior runner and 2013 national qualifier Dora Eastin thinks the Stampede provides a big home course advantage.

“We know our course and mentally it helps us,” she said. “We know where the one mile is, two mile and three mile, and we know what time we have to hit them. I love our course! Every chance I get, I am out there running it.”

After the Stampede will be the Chili Pepper Invitational, held Oct. 4 in Fayetteville, Ark.