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Oct. 23, 2002
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee men's and women's cross country teams are idle this weekend as part of their preparation for the Horizon League Championships on Nov. 2 in Chicago. The Panthers are coming off a pair of strong showings in the open race at the Pre-National meet at Indiana State on Saturday.
Horizon League Preview?
Many of the league's member schools competed at the Pre-National meet, though the meet was divided into three races. UWM and Wright State competed in the men's Open race, with the Raiders finishing 21st, well behind the Panthers. In the men's Blue race, Butler finished fifth overall, while Loyola finished 20th in the White race. On the women's side, Butler took 30th in the White race, with Loyola finishing fifth in the Open race, the same race UWM competed in. Also in the open race was Youngstown State, finishing 20th, and Wright State, finishing 26th.
Leading the Way
Senior Abby Hurst and sophomore Steve Saul were expected to pace the Panthers in 2002, and, for the most part, they both have lived up to those expectations. Saul led the men's team to a sixth-place finish at Notre Dame on Oct. 4, finishing 10th overall. Hurst regained her place at the top of the women's team at Indiana State, finishing 49th overall, after finishing third on the team at the Notre Dame Invitational two weeks ago. Saul is now a perfect 4-for-4 on leading the men's team in 2002, following his 11th-place finish at Bradley and an 18th-place mark at the Central Collegiate Championships on Sept. 27. Neither Saul nor Hurst competed at the Bronco Open on Oct. 11, with both runners resting for the Pre-National meet.
The men's team ran a short 4K course on Oct. 11 at the Bronco Open, the first time in recent history the Panthers have run shorter than 8K in a meet. The 4K concept is one that is being used by various schools around the country in an effort to include more runners in the sport of cross country. Andy Kivioja was the top finisher for the Panthers, finishing in 12:57.
Twice as Nice
Both Hurst and Saul were honored by the Horizon League for their performances at the Bradley Invitational. Each received Horizon League Athlete of the Week honors for the week ending Sept. 15 after leading their respective teams to a fourth-place finish. For Hurst, it is the second time in her career that she has received the league award, having won it to open the season a year ago, while Saul was the first men's runner to win the award since Aaron Nodolf received the honor on Oct. 3, 2000.
The men's team that finished sixth at Notre Dame on Oct. 4 was composed of three sophomores and two freshmen, perhaps the youngest team in the meet. The young group also managed to improve on last year's finish of seventh, even with last year's team including two of the school's more decorated distance runners in recent history, Cornelius Hill and Pat Harrington.
Both the men's and the women's teams continue to lean heavily on freshmen during the early part of the cross country season. Josh Nygren was again the second men's finisher at Notre Dame, finishing 21st overall. He was followed once again by Nate Weiland, who was back in the top three after finishing fourth at the Central Collgiate Championships. For the women, Katie Anderson picked up a team second-place finish, finishing 52nd overall, while Michelle Blomquist finished as the fourth Panther runner, coming in 81st-place. All four of the freshmen (Nygren, Weiland, Anderson and Blomquist) placed in the top 75 at last year's Wisconsin state cross country championships.
he Streak Ends
Abby Hurst had a streak of eight-straight races leading the Panther women snapped at the Notre Dame Invitational Oct. 4. Hurst struggled with the elements and finished as the third runner on the team, coming in 67th place. Before Friday's disappointing finish. Hurst was the top runner in each of the six races a year ago, claiming three top-10 finishes, and led the Panthers in both of the first two events in 2002. She collected her first top-10 showing of the year, and fourth of her career, on Sept. 27 at the Central Collegiate Championships, finishing ninth.
The Panthers will next compete at the Horizon League Championships, which will be held on Nov. 2 in Chicago. Both teams will be looking to improve on their finish of a year ago, when the men finished fourth and the women sixth.