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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Cross country season preview: Men and women hope to build on last season’s success

Photo by Tom Hillmeyer

Ever since head coach Mike Nelson took the reins of Marquette cross country in 2007, both the men’s and women’s teams have been stuck in the middle of the pack in the BIG EAST. This year, with the team hosting the BIG EAST Championships in Somers, Wisconsin, both the men’s and women’s teams are hoping to rise above last year’s fifth place finish.

Men return an experienced core

The seven fastest runners from last year’s team will return this season, and leading the way is senior Alec Miller, who improved ten spots from his sophomore to junior campaign at the conference championship.

“Alec is going to continue to perform at a high level and place high for us,” junior teammate Brad Eagan said. “We have been really good training partners and I think if I continue to improve, I could be right up there with him.”

Eagan had a strong finish last season, placing first among seven Marquette runners at the Great Lakes Regional. While the Mason, Ohio native is one of the most prolific racers on Marquette’s roster, he is certainly not the only one.

“Daniel Pederson, Aric Miller, and Jon Klaiber look very promising as well,” Eagan said. “They all have a lot of talent and could do some serious damage this year.”

“On the men’s side we have our core group of guys returning and that experience and leadership will really benefit the whole team,” Nelson added. “I’m confident that we’ll consistently have four to six guys rolling along the front of the pack.”

Women hope to overcome injuries

The women’s team is coming off a season filled with bad breaks and injuries, with three key members having missed significant time. Despite the heartache, the team regrouped and pulled off a fifth place finish at the conference championship.

Redshirt junior Jessica Parker missed approximately half the cross country season, then turned it around in the winter and set a school record for the 800-meter dash during the indoor track and field season. Fellow junior Nora Keller also missed a sizable portion of the season due to last year’s injuries, but are both healthy and ready to go this year.

Redshirt junior and team captain Meghan Carroll said she feels that being healthy throughout the fall could turn the team’s fortunes around and make for a bounce-back season. “It’s really important to have all your runners healthy so they can motivate each other during competition,” Carroll said. “Having a healthy team this year could definitely help us place higher.”

Senior Jennifer Parker, Jessica’s twin sister, has consistently been a top performer coming into this season. Jennifer Parker earned all-BIG EAST honors last year after placing 20th overall at the conference championships.

One other runner to watch out for is redshirt sophomore Courtney Dugan, who is transitioning to cross country after playing on of the women’s soccer team for the past two seasons.

“I have been training with Courtney (Dugan) during the offseason and she has been kicking my butt,” Carroll said. “I’m sure she will make a big impact for us.”

Recruiting class important to team’s future

The cross country team has an incoming class of 15 runners, one of the largest in program history. There are eight newcomers to the women’s side and seven on the men’s.

“Fifteen additions is not typical, normally we have eight to 10 at most;” Nelson said. “I think we were fortunate to land so many recruits and I would be surprised if any of them do not end up being contributors. We are at a really healthy point in our program . . . I really like our team this year and think we have a good chance at being better than last year.”

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