2001 Men's Cross Country Outlook
Aug. 30, 2001
EUGENE - Coming off its strongest track and field season in almost a decade, the Duck men's cross country team sense an excitement in the air. But then again, the cross country race is one that's unpredictable, with many a twist and turn.
And this year's team is fully cognizant of that after a 2000 season that featured a top-10 ranking and Pac-10 runner-up honors, balanced by a postseason aberration that left the fourth-place regional finishers just shy of another NCAA run.
However, now it's 2001, and last year's experience gives them added incentive for a would-be 29th national appearance since 1963. On paper, the young squad returns four of last year's top five harriers, and the addition of three top newcomers should position them among the Western Regional's top squads.
Last year the Ducks felt right at home in the Pacific Northwest, as they placed six individually among the top 25 in Seattle in the Pacific-10 Conference Championships. However, with this year's Pac-10 and NCAA West Regional in balmy Tempe and Tucson, Ariz., respectively, the Ducks will need to be at their best against the toughest conference and regional in the nation, which has featured seven or more All-Americans in five of the past six NCAA finales.
Other stops during the season include meets against national-caliber fields at the Roy Griak Invitational in St. Paul, Minn., (9/29) and the Furman Invitational in Greenville, S.C. (10/13) - to rack up wins against other potential NCAA qualifiers.
Junior Jason Hartmann will likely lead the way after pacing the squad in four of five races in 2000. At the national level, he is a two-time All-American in cross country (37th in `99 and 35th in `00), as well as once on the track at Hayward Field last May (third, 10K). In 2001, he also lowered his bests in the 10K and 5K to 28:56.06 and 14:05.72 on the outdoor and indoor circuits, respectively - his first full season on the oval.
Redshirt senior Adam Bergquist again looks to be among the team's front-runners after a breakthrough fall in 2000. The senior from Boulder, Colo., raced third on the team in all four of his races, including a top-20 effort in his Pac-10 Championships debut (17th). On the track, he owns a 5K best of 14:14.51 from 1998 and was third in the 5K at the U.S. Junior Championships that summer.
Sophomores John Lucas, Brett Holts and Noel Paulson all ran strong in their collegiate debuts last season, finishing among the team's top six in every race. At the Pac-10 Championships, the trio all placed top-25 individually (18th, 19th and 25th, respectively) and were separated by only 12 seconds. On the track last spring, Holts and Paulson redshirted to preserve an extra year of eligibility, while Lucas debuted in the 10K in May with a solid 30:34.72 effort.
Two other redshirt freshmen, Eric Logsdon and Kyle Robinson, will make their collegiate debuts after utilizing last year to make the jump to the collegiate level. Logsdon from Canby High School led the nation on the track as a senior in 2000 (8:10.66), while Robinson from Salem ranked top five in the state that same season (1,500 - 3:59.27, 3,000 - 8:39.50).
A pair of other returnees, senior Simon Kimata and junior Oliver Redig, return with higher aspirations after his first collegiate harrier seasons for the Ducks in 2000. Kimata ran two races for the `B' squad, then on the track earned an NCAA invite in the 800 with a season best of 1:47.92 that ranks seventh all-time for the Ducks. Redig was a former JC All-American for Clackamas for Mt. Hood Community College and prep all-state runner in Nevada, before joining the squad last fall.
Redshirt freshman transfer Ryan Andrus leads a trio of talented additions who could provide immediate scoring help. A Duck since January after returning from a two-year religious mission, he qualified in the 5,000 for the 1998 World Junior Championships as a University of Wisconsin freshman, and owns 1,500 and 5K season bests of 3:46.5 and 14:11.8, respectively.
Freshmen Seth Pilkington and Erik Heinonen arrive as two of the nation's top prospects after finishing fifth and sixth, respectively, at the 2000 FootLocker Championships, the national prep harrier finale. On the track, Pilkington ranked third nationally in the 3,200 (8:55.36), while Heinonen, a product of South High School in Eugene, was the top prepster in the 10,000 (31:26.05).