August 1, 2006
Bloomington, Ind. - The Indiana women's cross country team transitioned into the summer training season gaining momentum. After a 2000 cross country season that saw them make their best regional finish in a decade, the Hoosiers moved into track and gained confidence as they had athletes score in the conference in the indoor 800m, indoor mile, and indoor distance medley relay as well as two athletes in both the outdoor 800m and outdoor 1,500m. Two of their top runners were putting injury-plagued seasons behind them and returning to form. Last season, they were `aiming for Ames' and this season would be no different as they were `going for Greenville,' the South Carolina site for the 2001 NCAA Championship.
Head coach Judy Bogenschutz kept in touch with her athletes over the summer, but one day had to send news that no one wanted to hear. Senior Stephanie Magley, who was consistently third for the Hoosiers in every meet other than the Big Ten Championship, was critically injured in a head-on collision with a semi-truck while on her way to work near her home in Ft. Wayne, Ind. The injuries she sustained were severe enough to only make the team thankful that she was alive.
Yet, Bogenschutz has been surprised not just by the rapid recovery and tremendous attitude of Magley, but also by the focus of the team when faced with adversity. She said, "Once it was established that she would recover, it just became a time to wait and see how she would heal. The great thing was just her positive attitude. It's a miracle how fast she is getting back on her feet. I know she is going to come back and want to do stuff this year, but we knew immediately that we would redshirt her for the entire year. But, she is there even if she's not `there.'"
Bogenschutz added, "The team stayed really focused throughout. I think it effects fellow senior Erin Womble because their last season became last season, but I also think they have turned it around to motivate them. They are a year older and a year more mature." The core group that is a year more mature is the same group that pulled together when junior Amanda Bell, who was second for the team at the Big Ten Championship, developed two stress fractures over the season, which ended after that meet. The team responded and took fourth at the Great Lakes Regional.
"They had to evolve to get to that point and they had to do it on their own. My theme is that they should be in this to see, `How far can I go.' They just went out and said, `Let's go out and run.' All of those girls that did that are back, everyone has improved, and we have a core of 12 incoming freshman. There are a lot of possibilities for this year and the years to come," said Bogenschutz.
When asked what the team goals are, they haven't changed despite the setback says Bogenschutz. "We're still shooting to be at the top of the Big Ten and qualifying for nationals. I see this team this year forming its own personality. I think our top seven from last year are in much better physical and mental shape this season and are coming off of great summers of training. Time will tell."
The women will train Sunday to Wednesday at Whitewater State Park.