Marquette Cross Country Awards and Season Recap

Nov. 25, 2008

MILWAUKEE -- The Marquette cross country team held its post-season awards banquet Friday night and honored several individuals for their performance during the 2008 season.

Earning Athlete of the Year awards were Anna Weber and Kyle Saginus. Beggs led women at the BIG EAST Championships and the NCAA Great Lakes Regional with 35th and 25th place finishes, respectively. Saginus became the first Marquette male runner to earn All-BIG EAST honors with a 12th place finish, and narrowly missed qualifying for the NCAA Championships with a 15th place finish at the Great Lakes Regional. Both runners earned All-Great Lakes Region honors for their performances at the Regional.

Athlete of the Year

Men: Kyle Saginus

Women: Anna Weber

Most Improved

Men: Drew Craig and Brice Cleland

Women: Amanda Beggs

Freshman of the Year

Men: Blake Johnson

Women: Kate Horan


2008 Season Recap

After losing program stalwarts Cassie Peller and Scott Mueller after their eligibility expired, the 2008 edition of the Marquette cross country squad looked to a different group of emerging leaders.



"With the women I was very impressed with how they ended the season, running their two strongest races in the final meets of the year," said head coach Mike Nelson. "They came together at the right time and proved that we have a tough group of women here at Marquette. With the men we had a unique combination of youth and veteran leadership from the freshman up to the seniors (Steve Briggs, Drew Craig, Mark Kopecki and Kyle Saginus)."

Senior Kyle Saginus, who returned from injury last season about half way through the year, cemented himself as the squad's top runner early in 2008. In the season's first race on Aug. 30, Saginus won the Big River Running Early Bird in St. Louis with a time of 18:42.9, helping the men's team to a squad victory at the meet. At the Early Bird, Brice Cleland and freshman Keith Schueller both finished in the meet's top 10, finishing fifth and ninth, respectively.

The women also won the Early Bird, being paced by Jayne Grebinski, Anna Weber and Olivia Johnson, who finished 3-4-5.

After a two week break the team returned to action at the NIU Huskie Invitational on Sept. 13 in very sloppy conditions.

"I was impressed with how our runners dealt with the adverse weather conditions," Nelson said. "Times were slow across the board because of how hard it was raining and how sloppy the course was."

Coach Nelson rested his top runners and allow the younger athletes on his roster to get some meet experience. The men, after running a 6K at the Early Bird, ran their first 8K race of the season but did not qualify for the team standings as only four men competed due to injuries. Freshman Blake Johnson, Garrett McKnight and Patrick Keeley all ran in their first race with the longer distance and met the expectations of Nelson.

"I was really impressed with how Blake and the other freshman did," said Nelson. "With this being their first 8K race, they ran well."

Dalrymple led the women at the Huskie Invitational, finishing eighth in 19:23. Dalrymple was followed closely by Sarah Verdoliva, who was running in only the second cross country race of her collegiate career, and freshman Kate Horan. The women's team finished the meet in second place.

The third meet of the year took the team to Notre Dame, Ind. for the Notre Dame Invitational on Oct. 3. The meet matched up a total of 19 teams ranked in either the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association's men's or women's top 30. For the men, Saginus led the way, finishing 41st in 24:30. Following Saginus was Cleland who finished in 24:48 and was the only other MU male runner to finish in the top 100. Co-captain Drew Craig ran his best race of the season, finishing third on the team in 25:29.

On the women's squad, Weber was the top finisher, registering a time of 17:43. Following her were Grebinski in a time of 17:45, while Dalrymple and Johnson finished in 17:46 and 17:49, respectively.

At the NCAA Pre-Nationals in Terre Haute, Ind., at the NCAA Championships course, the women finished 26th while the men placed 30th. Saginus led the men, crossing the finish line in 63rd place, while Laurie Dalrymple was the first MU woman to cross in 93rd place. A total of 58 ranked men's or women's teams competed in the field, meaning that only two nationally ranked squads did not participate.

By the time the BIG EAST Championships in Van Cortlandt Park rolled around, Marquette was eager to get back on the course after a disappointing showing at the Pre-Nationals. Both teams appeared ready to give their best performance of the season.

Saginus finished 12th in 24:56, becoming the first Marquette male runner to earn All-BIG EAST recognition and only the second in the school's four year affiliation with the conference, joining Cassie Peller who earned the distinction in 2005.

Cleland finished 35th and Nick Szczech finished 46th, shaking off the injury bug for one of his better finishes of the season. For the women, Weber came in 35th and Grebinski returned after a rough race at the Pre-Nationals to finish 37th. The men and women finished seventh for the second consecutive year, with the women tying Louisville.

The season's last meet at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional provided an opportunity for the women to gather some at-large points and Saginus to attempt to qualify for the NCAA Championships. Saginus ran a great race in less than stellar conditions finishing 15th in 31:57.

"One of Kyle's goals since he arrived at Marquette was to qualify for the NCAA Championships and he came as close as he possibly could have. He did everything posible and ran a gutsy race. That is all I can ever ask of my athletes," Nelson added.

The women beat their regional ranking, placing seventh, up from ninth, with strong performances form Weber (25th), Grebinski (42nd) and Dalrymple (45th).

For their efforts at the Regional, both Saginus and Weber earned All-Great Lakes Region honors.

In the final USTFCCCA Great Lakes Region poll, the women ended the season ranked ninth, while the men finished 11th.


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