Dr. Robert Chapmans objective with his first Indiana mens cross country recruiting class was to secure as many of the Hoosier states top high school runners as possible. That season, he lured eight of the states top 10 runners to Bloomington, and this group, including fourth-year junior Bart Phariss, is the nucleus of a team that is poised to compete with the nations premier programs this fall.
Four years ago, the goal for this program was to emerge as one of the nations top 25 teams and have some runners compete at the NCAAs, Chapman said. We have reached that goal, and now we are looking to compete with the nations elite.
Each of the last two years, Indianas recruiting class has been ranked among the top in the nation. And while Phariss is excited about IUs tremendous depth, he also knows that his and his classmates leadership is crucial to the teams development.
I would tell freshmen to relax and not put pressure on themselves- Its unfair to expect an 18-year-old kid to come in and run with 21-22 year olds that have been here 3-4 years, Phariss said. Just relax and work on improving, any success you have is icing on the cake.
Phariss has made some sweet progress during his career. Despite sitting out the 1999 season as a redshirt, the Indianapolis native placed 17th at the World Cross Country Junior Team Trials. He took 20th overall at the 2000 Big Ten Cross Country Championships and was among IUs top three runners in each of his five meets last season. He also took second in the 10,000 meters at the prestigious Drake Relays and eighth in the 10,000 meters at the Big Ten Championships.
Bart followed the game plan and had a breakthrough year, Chapman said. By his actions, he has shown the entire team the road map to excellence.
If you ask Phariss, this individual development pales in comparison to Indianas team objectives for 2002.
As Coach said last year, we were a good practice team, now we have to translate that to meets, Phariss said. I think the freshmen should key off me the first few meets since I have the experience. Its going to be fun. Hopefully, people have learned that you have to go out and race hard, push throughout. It may hurt, but its worth it.