Men's Cross Country 2016 Season Preview
Sept. 8, 2016
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“I feel really good about where the men’s team is at right now,” Marquette head coach Mike Nelson said. “We’re going to be better than we were last year, mainly because we’re healthier. We were very young last year. If you look at who ran at conference, it was our two seniors and everyone else was underclassmen. We’re a year older and a year wiser.
“We did lose some tremendous leadership with William Hennessy and Patrick Campbell,” Nelson added. “William was a guy that for pretty much every championship in every sport and every season, he was contributing. Patrick was a tremendous leader and now he’s in dental school at Marquette.”
Haberkorn, who was a fixture in the team’s top-seven a year ago, is optimistic that the Golden Eagles can put together a strong season.
“We are definitely ready to improve from last year and be up with the front pack at the conference meet, while competing for the top spots at regionals,” Haberkorn said.
Last year’s top performer in each of MU’s six races was Alec Miller. Now a junior, it’s believed he, too, can take the next step and battle with some of the best the BIG EAST Conference has to offer.
“Alec made steady progress all track season, running well during both indoors and outdoors last year,” Nelson said. “His training has been very solid. What I look for from Alec is to be more of a presence at the front of races.”
MU dealt with a few injuries to key guys last season, including Alec’s brother, Aric Miller, who turned in a strong freshman campaign in 2014 before missing most of last season due to injury.
“Aric is also really training well,” Nelson said. “It’s going to be great to have him healthy and running well again. I look for him to make a big impact on our team.”
Speaking of big impacts, Nelson received major contributions from a couple newcomers last year in Brad Eagan and Jon Klaiber. Both jostled between the second and fourth finishing spots throughout their freshmen seasons and are expected to be in the mix for those positions again this year.
“Brad and Jon were big difference-makers last year,” Nelson said. “I think they’ve improved through some great training over the summer. We’ve got some guys training at an elite level and they are certainly in that group.”
Like both Eagan and Klaiber from a year ago, this year’s incoming class has a few guys that are looking to make an immediate impact as well. Ryan Burd and Ryan Dvornik are certainly in that group, while in-state talent Daniel Pederson will be as well.
A native of Spooner, Wisconsin, Pederson is the reigning WIAA Division II state champion coming out of high school and was twice named Runner of the Year by the Wisconsin Cross Country Coaches Association.
“We have tremendous depth,” Nelson said. “I think we have about 14 guys that will be battling for our scoring positions. We have some guys that can get up and run with people at the front of races, but also the depth to score well at meets. I’m really excited about this men’s group.”
The Golden Eagles begin the season at the Midwest Open hosted by UW-Parkside at the Dannehl National Cross Country Course in Kenosha on Saturday, Sept. 10. It’s a course that is similar to the one we’ll see at the BIG EAST Championships, which is hosted by St. John’s at Van Cortlandt Park on Oct. 28. Dannehl National XC Course will also be home to the 2017 BIG EAST Championships as Marquette is due to host for the first time since 2013.
“Everything is a build-up to running well at the BIG EAST Championships and the NCAA Regional,” Nelson said. “The Parkside course, in a lot of ways, is actually the closest representation to Van Cortlandt Park as you can get. In terms of the crushed gravel surface and the hilly terrain, it will serve as good preparation for what we will see at the BIG EAST meet.”
Marquette competes at the annual National Catholic Invitational (Sept. 16) at Notre Dame before heading south to the Greater Louisville Classic (Oct. 1) – returning for the first time since 2013.
Nelson’s squad will head to the NCAA Pre-Nationals meet (Oct. 15) in Terre Haute, Indiana before the BIG EAST Championships and then NCAA Regional (Nov. 11).
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