Thu, Aug. 30, 2012 - [Men's Cross Country]
Some people believe it is more difficult to defend a title than to win the first one.
This is the test for the Loras College men's cross country team in 2012 – defend the Iowa Conference championship they brought back to Dubuque from Luther College last fall. That first title was no easy task – it was just three places that separated Loras from host Luther.
So as the 2012 nears, where does head coach Bob Schultz see his team?
"Our team has had a super summer," Schultz said. "Every one of the guys we are counting on this season came back in great shape. If we stay healthy, this could be the best men's cross country team in school history."
Strong words? Maybe. But Coach Schultz returns six of his seven runners from the 25th place finish at the NCAA Division III Championship in 2011. And the USTFCCCA noticed with the preseason #16 ranking they published on August 22.
Only one runner has departed, but the reality for Schultz is that it was a big one.
"Dan (McDermott) was number one for us all of last season," Schultz points out. "Not only will we miss him as our number one runner, but we will miss his leadership, too."
The other six returners are Jerry Olp, Austin Steil, Rob Howe, Steve Loran, Ty Wittman, and Chris Higgins. Each ran a lifetime PR at the NCAA Division III Championship in central Wisconsin last November.
Pushing those six returners and looking to fill McDermott's shoes will be a handful of Duhawks who are back again in 2012, along with newcomers Sam Whan and Brady Hunt – among others. Transfer Cody Manchester (North Iowa Area Community College) – who won the Dr. Robert Tucker Invitational a year ago, is also expected to push the pace throughout 2012.
"The men, like the women, have some real depth," Schultz noted.
After the Iowa Conference, Schultz and the Duhawks will again have their sights set on a high finish at the central region meet (possibly the top spot) and a return to the NCAA Division III Championship – this season in Terre Haute, Indiana.
Schultz is excited to start the season.
"If we reach our goals, this group of young men would establish themselves as the top cross country team in school history."
A CLOSER LOOK:
2011 IIAC Finish: 1st, 53 points (2nd was 56, host Luther College)
2011 NCAA Central Region Finish: 4th, 141 points (3rd was 133, 5th was 161)
2011 Top Seven lost: Dan McDermott
Also keep an eye on: JP Sevcik and Tyler Schaefer
WATCH THEM IN DUBUQUE:
October 12 at 4:30 PM at the Dr. Robert Tucker Invitational, hosted at the Dubuque Soccer Complex.
View the full schedule HERE.