Milwaukee Cross Country Opens 2007 In Chicago
MILWAUKEE, Wis. (Aug. 31, 2007) - The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee men's and women's cross country teams kick off the 2007 season this weekend, competing in the UIC Invitational Saturday, Sept. 1, in Chicago.
The Panthers have not opened the season at the UIC Invite since 2005, the third-straight year in which they did.
A UWM freshman has won the women's race the last two times Milwaukee has competed. Senior Angie Huebner was victorious in her first collegiate meet in 2004 and Megan Johnson followed suit in 2005. The Panthers have posted records of 1-2 in 2005, 3-0 in 2004 and 2-2 in 2003 at the meet. The UIC Invitational features dual meet scoring.
On the men's side, Josh Nygren posted a win for Milwaukee the team's last trip to the meet. UWM's men's squad has posted 2-2 records in 2004 and 2005 after a 1-2 mark in 2003.
Milwaukee returns to action next Friday (Sept. 7) at the Crusader Open in Valparaiso, Ind. The meet is hosted by Valparaiso, the newest members of the Horizon League.
2007 Men's Cross Country Preview
The top half of the Horizon League has been home to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee men's track and field team since 2000.
But, this year, the Panthers want more.
Milwaukee has placed fourth at the league meet in six of the last seven seasons, moving up to third in 2004. This season, the Panthers have their sights affixed once again on moving up in the league.
If UWM is to make its move in the league standings, it will be on the shoulders of a young Panther squad. Senior Nick Hawley and junior Nick Porter are the lone upperclassmen on the team and are accompanied by five freshman and five sophomores.
"For us to be successful this season, we will need production from our returning runners," head coach Pete Corfeld said. "Our goals are to move up in not only the league, but the region. Our returning guys will have to lead the way and let the freshmen adapt to running in college."
Hawley is as good as anyone to lead this team, coming off his best season as a collegian. In 2006, he was the top finisher on the team at each of the four standard length meets. He picked up all-league second team honors by taking 10th at the league meet and placed 81st at the NCAA Regional.
"Nick is looking to improve on last year's second-team performance," Corfeld said. "He has gotten better each year and last season was a breakout for him on the course."
While Hawley emerged as the team's No. 1 scorer, Milwaukee will be without its next two finishers from last season, including departed senior Justin Gorman.
Mleziva was the team's fourth scorer at each meet he competed and followed that up with a solid track campaign. His track season culminated in a third-place finish in the 10,000m at the Horizon League Outdoor Championships.
"Ryan had a solid freshman year in both cross country and track," Corfeld said. "His performance was better than the usual first year's, by far. We're looking for him to expand on that for this season."
Pitt scored three times last season in his first with the cross country squad. He joined the track and field program in 2006, giving him two seasons of collegiate distance running under his belt.
"Eric is a solid competitor," Corfeld said. "When he runs, he puts everything he has on the course. Now that he has had a full year of cross country and another year of track experience, he will be able to make some ground this season."
Sophomore Mike Sorenson ran with the top seven at every meet last season, scoring in the first two meets. The highlight of his season was an 18th-place showing at the Illini Challenge, where he was the second Panther across the line. During the track season, he ran in much of the same events as Mleziva and was fifth in the outdoor 10,000m at the league meet.
"He learned a lot his first year," Corfeld said of Sorenson. "He developed a much better distance base and we expect that to show this season."
Another sophomore that could continually vie for points is Matt Dreifke. As a rookie last season, he scored once and was among the team's top seven at all five meets.
"We are expecting that Matt will be able to expand on his freshman year experience," Corfeld said. "The team is going to need consistent performance in a counting position. The up's and down's of last year will need to be minimized."
Redshirt freshman Andrew Fox sat out the 2006 season after a standout career at Waukesha South High School. He was a two-time state-qualifier, taking 24th as a junior and 20th as a senior.
"Andrew was held back by injuries last year and he finally showed some consistency late in the cross country season," Corfeld said. "He is still getting experience, but it will be nice to count on him."
Like Fox, sophomore Nick Porter also struglled with some injuries, but still ran at four meets. Included in those meets was a 28th-place finish, the only time he was among the team's top seven. All five newcomers come to Milwaukee with success at the Wisconsin state level and a good amount of team success.
Freshman Kyle Kluth walked on to the team after qualifying for state three times at nearby Arrowhead High School. His career culminated with a 26th-place showing as a senior and included second, fourth and sixth-place finished by his team at the state meet.
Another Waukesha South product is freshman Ben Borton. Borton signed a National Letter of Intent before the summer after two state-qualifying years at WSHS. He helped his team to seventh at the state meet as a sophomore, taking 65th.
"Kyle did really well throughout his junior year at Arrowhead, but faced some injuries as a senior. And Ben will certainly be a good distance runner for us," Corfeld said. "Both guys will come in and shore up our cross country troops."
Sophomore Jason Axt joins the Panthers from nearby Whitnall High School, via UW-Platteville. He attended UWP last year, but did not compete for the Pioneers. At Whitnall, he ran at state two times, helping his team to a third-place finish as a junior and sixth place as a senior. His best finish was 43rd as a junior.
Rounding out this year's team is freshman Jeff Winkelman from the storied Stevens Point Area Senior High School program. SPASH has finished first or second at the state meet 13 times, including a second-place showing last season. Winkelman, a two-time all-conference team member, placed 44th at the 2006 state meet.
"Jeff qualified for state as a senior and comes from one of the premier distance programs in the Midwest," Corfeld said.