Seeking Big Ten Crown in 2000
June 7, 2000
The 1999 Indiana men's cross country team took a large step toward returning the Hoosiers to the days when Indiana found itself on top of the Big Ten and competing for a national crown year in and year out. Last year the Hoosiers posted their best Big Ten finish in five seasons, and one has to go back to 1993 to see the last time a team made such an improvement from one season to the next at the Big Ten Championship. The men improved by five places at last season's championship and this year's squad features much of the core of that team.
The Hoosiers will need to find a way to replace All-American Tom Chorny, but they return 11 letterwinners giving them depth and experience as they hope to take the next step toward a Big Ten and NCAA crown.
"We can decide how good we want to be this season. Everyone on this team knows what it takes to step up and go for the ring. They make the decision on how good we can be this year. We are are going to go for it and see what happens," Head Coach Dr. Robert Chapman said.
One of the keys to success in 2000 will be senior Aaron Gillen. He was Indiana's No. 2 runner in two of three meets that he competed in last season, the Pre-NCAA meet and the Big Ten Championship. Chapman has found the right training plan to keep Gillen healthy, and he is counting on an All-America performance from him in 2000.
"Gillen is our 'go-to-guy' this year. You know what you are going to get from Aaron. He never has a bad race," Chapman said. "Now that we have him on the right training program we have gotten rid of his history of being injury prone and we will not need to worry about motivating him".
A trio of athletes will be counted on to step up and provide Gillen support. Seniors Chris Ekman and Tom Brooks and junior Kevin Chandler give Indiana an experienced corps in its top four runners.
"This has been a building process the last two seasons, and each of these three athletes has been a part of that building process. It is now time for them to step up and take us to the next level," Chapman said.
While the Indiana roster is full of experience, there is a young corps of runners that will be expected to have an immediate impact in 2000.
Sophomores Chris Powers and Chad Andrews were both among the Hoosiers' top five at each of the team's final three meets (Pre-NCAA, Big Ten Championships, NCAA Regionals). They will be expected to continue to improve in their second season.
"Chris and Chad both got a taste of success at the Big Ten Championship as both ranked in the top five among freshmen," Chapman said. "Now we need them to continue to climb up the Big Ten leaderboard."
Redshirt freshmen Bart Phariss, Nathan Purcell, Brett Tipton and Jeff Zeha will all be factors this season.
"Tipton is a real wild card for us. He has the ability, we need to see what happens when we extend his miles," Chapman said.