Indiana Women's Cross Country: 2006 Season Preview
Aug. 15, 2006
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - The Indiana women's cross country team is geared up for another exciting season. With a solid core of returnees, combined with an impeccable incoming class, the Hoosiers look to continue to make their mark on the national scene.
Indiana head coach Judy Wilson and the Hoosiers have their sights set on the program's fourth NCAA appearance in five seasons. Wilson believes the team should excel both in the Big Ten and nationally in 2006.
"We should have a strong seven and a national-qualifying team this season," Wilson said. "We could be a top-three team in the conference thanks to the group we have returning and the group we are brining in. If we can hold it together throughout the season and stay away from injuries, we are looking to contend for a Big Ten title and qualify as a team for the NCAA meet."
Gall, the second Hoosier in IU history to earn All-America honors on more than one occasion, is a two-time NCAA qualifier and will undoubtedly be a driving force behind the success of the team in 2006. Last season, the All-Big Ten selection finished ninth in the conference, 32nd at the national meet and competed at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in the 10,000m.
"Jess is just such a driven person," Wilson said. "She is committed and determined to excel in everything she does. She wants to see how fast she can run in four years. She has a way of working through obstacles and coming out on top. Jess will be a huge component to our team's success this season."
Hattendorf returns for her final season in the Cream and Crimson after taking 10th at the Big Tens and 61st at the NCAA Championships.
Redshirt freshman Stephanie Greer will add even more strength to the IU lineup in the fall. Greer, who was sidelined last season, will be a welcome addition.
"We are excited to add Steph to the mix," Wilson said. "She improved so much during the track season. Stephanie, combined with our incoming freshman class, will make for an outstanding team."
The Hoosiers will welcome eight newcomers to the roster, including five from Indiana.
"This is going to be a big freshman class in both number and talent," Wilson said. "Kelly Lemcke, Rachel Ehret and Hailee Elmore have all raced at a pretty high level in high school and at some national meets. Jenny Kulow is a local kid who finished 10th at the state cross country meet and, with a little more training, will make a significant impact. You never know who is going to come in after a really good summer and shine for us. This class could carry us though the next couple of years. This is one of the best groups we have brought in in a long time."
Indiana will host the 2006 Big Ten Championships for the first time since 1996. The world-class facility has held the national cross county meet five times and been the site of the conference meet on four occasions. In addition to the conference meet, the Hoosiers will play host to the Indiana Community 5K (Sept.1), the Indiana Open (Sept. 9) and the Indiana 4K Championships (Oct. 22). With more than half the roster from Indiana, Wilson believes the home-course advantage is important to her team.
"I pushed to get the Big Ten meet here," Wilson said. "It was important to me and this team to see Jessica Gall and Lindsay Hattendorf compete in their last Big Ten meet on their home course. With Wendi Robinson and Steph Greer being Indiana people, running in the conference meet on your home course is a phenomenal opportunity. We could potentially have five of our top seven from the state of Indiana."
With a deep team, four home meets, a top-notch coaching staff and momentum from last season and the track seasons, the Hoosiers are set to make their impact on the national stage.
"It's going to be a really young team," Wilson said. "We have experience from both our upper classmen and some really good talent from our younger group. We are excited to see what all this team can achieve."
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