Bloomington, IN - The No. 22 Indiana mens cross country team gets its first official look at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course - site of the Nov. 25 NCAA Championship when it heads to the Indiana State Invitational on Oct. 5. The mens 8K race gets underway at 11:15 a.m. and features No. 6 Villanova, No. 12 Butler, No. 13 Colorado State, No. 26 Alabama and Tennessee (receiving votes) in its 21-team field.
Although the Hoosiers face their toughest test of the season on a national championship course, head coach Dr. Robert Chapman says his teams objectives do not change.
Essentially our goals are still the same. The focus for us is on getting our athletes ready to perform in track, and hopefully still have enough fitness to do well in November, he said. We've got 25 meets left on our schedule in the next 36 weeks (combining cross country with indoor and outdoor track.) That's a lot of racing, and we need to have enough vision to plan our efforts accordingly.
The Hoosier mens and womens teams will be in Terre Haute for the Pre-NCAA meet on Oct. 19, which will be the final tuneup prior to the Nov. 3 Big Ten Championships at Purdue.
Chapman entered the season knowing that Indiana has one of the deepest teams in the country. The main question was who would emerge from this depth to be among the Hoosiers top two runners. Redshirt freshmen John and Sean Jefferson have certainly stepped up during the month of September. John has been IUs top finisher in each of the first two meets and earned Big Ten Athlete of the Week honors on Sept. 23 after winning the Indiana Intercollegiates title (25:05 for 8K). Sean was right behind his brother, finishing third overall at 25:20.
Junior Bart Phariss has also been among IUs top three in each of the first two meets. The junior from Indianapolis turned in the fifth-best 8K performance of his career when he took fourth at the Indiana Intercollegiates (25:27).