The tone for the 2002 Indiana mens cross country season was set during the Hoosiers most recent indoor track campaign. IU was one of only three programs nationally (Arkansas and Georgetown were the others) to have an athlete run an NCAA qualifying time in each of the following events: 800 meters, mile, 3,000 meters and 5,000 meters. In addition, Indiana was one of only four programs nationally (Colorado, Arkansas and Stanford) to have four separate athletes post times of 14:10 or better for 5,000 meters and all four were either freshman or sophomores. Thus, you can understand head coach Dr. Robert Chapmans eager anticipation toward this fall.
Team success in cross country always seems to be a mix between having one or two solid front runners and great depth, Chapman said. Weve been able to take care of the depth side, and I still believe we are one of the deepest teams in the country. Were one of only a handful of programs that has four athletes at sub 14:10 for 5k on the track. Our success this season will certainly be decided by finding out who those one or two front runners can be for us.
Senior Chad Andrews is the Hoosiers top returnee. Andrews capped his junior season with his second straight NCAA Championship appearance, turning in a career-best 10K time of 30:52. Andrews turned in three of his top five career 8K times last season, including a 22nd place finish (24:35.2) at the Big Ten Championship.
Chris Powers, another senior, enjoyed some NCAA championship exposure, as he qualified for the 5,000 meters in indoor track. Powers had career-best times in both 8K and 10K events during the 2001 cross country season.
The Hoosiers will also count upon Bart Phariss for leadership and consistency. Phariss was one of Indianas more steady runners last fall, finishing among the teams top three in each of his five races and finished with a 10K career-best 31:19.6 at the NCAA Regional meet.
Indianas young guns are led by redshirt freshman twins John and Sean Jefferson and fellow Footlocker Finalist Stephen Haas. The Jeffersons and Haas headlined a 2001-02 IU track and field recruiting class ranked among the top three in the nation.
After redshirting his freshman year of cross country, John Jefferson enjoyed a solid debut indoor and outdoor track campaign. He earned All-American honors in the indoor mile and finished second in the 1,500 meters at the Big Ten Championships. Jefferson also ran a 14:04.66 in his debut 5.000 meters, which was the third-best time by a true freshman in the nation.
Sean was redshirted in both cross country and outdoor track, but he showed strong potential during the indoor track campaign, turning in a season-best 8:22.23 in the 3,000 meters.
Before being sidelined with an injury, Stephen Haas redshirted his freshman year to prepare for the World Cross Country Trials. Indoors, Haas ran 14:25.21 for 5K, which is the fastest ever by an IU freshman.
Indiana will count upon another seven returning letterwinners for valuable depth.