Head cross country coach Kevin Alessandro has reason for optimism as he guides the Golden Eagle program into the 2012 season.
Senior Abram Deng (Central) returns after an outstanding junior campaign, where he won the SLIAC Cross Country Championships in a school record time of 25:17 for 8000m and successfully defended his USCAA National title from 2010. The athletics program is out of its provisional period with the NCAA, and Deng looks to be a strong contender in the Great Lakes Region as he and his Spalding University teammates make a bid for the NCAA National Championships.
Deng will be joined by Seniors Alec Zaremba (Shelby Co.) and Eric Yepez (Hartnell College), as well as Juniors Haile Jemane (Central) and James Borengasser (Home School). Other returners include Sophomores Brad McFall (Fairdale) and Kyle Sherrard (Butler).
The men’s program also welcomes a large number of freshmen in Allen Matthews, Travis Griswold and Nick Gilmore (Butler), Nathan Mark (St. Henry), Tyler Edmondson (Grant County), Josh Ortega (N. Hardin), Chris Larrington (Elizabethtown), and Sakhir Mbaye (Jeffersontown). The strong freshman class compliments Deng and returners in what promises to be a defining year for the Golden Eagle harriers.
“I’m really excited about this season,” says Alessandro. “We have a few guys coming off of injuries that didn’t run much or at all last year, but I am more excited about where we are now from when the program was reinstated in 2008. Our goal is to have a strong showing at the SLIAC Championship and make a statement in the regional. We hope that statement ends with a berth into the National Championships.”
The women’s program will have a face of mostly freshman going into the fall. The team will welcome back Senior Liz Schooler (Seymour), Sophomores Krystina Perez (Hialeah Gardens) and All SLIAC performer from 2011, Janika King (Cass Tech).
King returns to improve on her 12th place finish in the SLIAC Championships in 2011. Schooler looks to put the finishing touches on her career at Spalding, while Perez looks to improve on a solid freshman campaign.
The Golden Eagle lady harriers will welcome the largest group of new athletes to the program since Coach Alessandro started in 2008. Elizabeth Fuchs will transition from the soccer field to the cross country course as a sophomore, and will welcome a large group of incoming freshman ladies to the team this fall led by buckeye Viola Deng (Centerville). Other incomers include Kayla Payne (Presentation), Shelby Cook (Waynesville), Arielle Biddix (Eastern), as well as Kelsie Suttle and Samantha Hommrich (Butler).
“It has been great to build the numbers in our women’s program,” says Alessandro. “I believe we have a strong group of returning and incoming athletes that are going to surprise some people this fall. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
The cross country programs will open up their season Sept. 1st when they travel to Franklin, IN for the Sodexo Grizzly Invitational hosted by Franklin College.