IU Cross Country Practice Off and Running for 2014
August 20, 2014HOOSIER SPORTS 365
IU SPORTS RELEASE
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - The Indiana men's and women's cross country teams reported back to campus this week and on Tuesday had their first practice in preparation for the 2014 season. The Hoosiers will begin competing on Sept. 6 when the IU hosts the Indiana Open in Bloomington.
There is plenty to be exited about in 2014 for IUXC. A year ago, both teams competed at the NCAA Championships for the first time since 2004. The IU men placed in the top 10 nationally for the third time in four years as the women's team had its best finish at the national meet since 2002. The good news for this upcoming fall, the majority of those participants at the national race last year return for the Cream and Crimson in 2014.
The IU men are the defending Big Ten Champions after the Hoosiers took thetop prize in the conference meet in 2013. The Big Ten title was the program's first since 1980. Four Hoosier runners finished in the top 10 in that race including First Team All-Big Ten honorees Jason Crist and Rorey Hunter and second teamers Carl Smith and Matt Schwartzer. Evan Esselink also scored for the Hoosiers at Big Tens and all five of those individuals are back for the 2014 season.
The Indiana men also had a strong showing at the NCAA Championships a year ago with a top 10 finish as the Hoosiers took eighth place in the national meet. It marked the men's third top-10 finish in the last four years at NCAAs, the program's best four-year span since 1977-80. Esselink led the team as he finished 45th overall in that race as he was followed by Crist, Smith, Schwartzer and JR Ricker. Ricker also returns for the IU men's team in 2014.
The women's team also brings back a number of contributors from last season as the IU ladies had their best finish at the NCAA Championships since the 2002 season. The Hoosier women made their first appearance as a team at NCAAs in 2013 for the first time in four years. Four runners that competed at NCAAs return in 2014 for the Hoosiers in Amanda Behnke, Brianna Johnson, Chanli Mundy and Bethany Neeley. Kelsey Duerksen, who would have competed at the NCAA meet if not for injury, also returns for her final season this fall.
The Indiana women also were ranked in 2013 for the first time in three years and had its highest ranking since 2004.
After hosting the Indiana Open, IU will compete in the Indiana Intercollegiate meet at Purdue on Sept. 19. The Hoosiers will then head west to Seattle, Wash. for the Washington Invitational on Oct. 4. Indiana will split the team and send runners to both the Adidas Invitational at the University of Wisconson on Oct. 17 and the Pre National meet in Terre Haute on Oct. 18.
The championship portion of the schedule begins on Nov. 2 with the Big Ten Championships hosted by Iowa. After IU hosts its final home meet of the year on Nov. 7 with the Hoosier Invitational, Indiana will compete in the NCAA Great Lakes Regional at Wisconson on Nov. 14. The 2014 NCAA Championships will take place in Terre Haute, Ind. on Nov. 22.