Cross Country team looks to improve on eighth place 2008 GLIACs finish


When the NMU cross country team takes to the course this fall, they will be looking to improve on a disappointing, but not unexpected, eighth place finish at the 2008 GLIAC Championships.

Head coach Jenny Ryan said she fully expects the team to make vast improvements on last year’s finish.

“I have pretty high expectations for our team,” she said. “A few of our top runners who took redshirts last year will be returning, and we will get back a few runners who were injured at the end of last season.”

Among those athletes who took redshirts last season were 2007 team leader Bibiane Mahy and senior Jenny Weidmeyer.

Last season, the NMU cross country team was led by a strong freshman group including Nora Killeen, Rebecca Holmquist, Stephanie Enderby and Erin McCulloch. Ryan said she hopes that between the return of Mahy and Weidmeyer, the improvement of last season’s freshman class and the addition of several new athletes, the team can make vast strides in competition.

“It’s hard to say (what place the team can finish in). My goal is that we would finish in the top five,” Ryan said. “The top goal I would set would be to finish in the top three (in the conference.) But a lot of things can change during a season.”

One thing that Ryan said would be key to the team’s success this season is offseason training. Because the coaches don’t begin official practices until a week before the season starts, much of the summer training is done on an individual basis.

“I send them a plan with the summer workouts on it,” Ryan said.

The summer workouts include distance training, strength training and plyometrics exercises.

Going into the season, Ryan said she hopes that other teams might be overlooking the Wildcats due to last year’s low finish.

“We’re going to come in as underdogs,” she said. “I think we’re going to be able to surprise some teams this year if they aren’t really ready for us.”

The 2009 season kicks off on Saturday, Aug. 28, when the Wildcats head to Houghton to take part in the U.P. Collegiate Cross Country Opener. Last season, the ‘Cats won the meet with 39 points.