Email This Page
2007 UMBC Cross Country Outlook
First-year head coach Tim Walker is looking for top five finishes at the AEC Championships for the men's and women's cross country teams.
For the first time in recent UMBC history the women’s cross country team is the same size as the men’s cross country team.
Even so, neither team boasts more than ten athletes on its respective rosters, but for head coach Tim Walker, that diminutiveness could turn out to be an advantage.
“I would like to have more than seven or eight guys [or girls] on the team,”
As far as the women’s team goes, the Retrievers are already a tight-knit group with six of the eight athletes returning from last year and a seventh that has been with the team since last January.
“Having so many veterans really helps the rest of the team, mostly the incoming freshman,”
One of those veteran leaders is senior captain Tawny Barin. Barin finished in the Retriever scoring five for the last four meets of the 2006 season and recorded personal best times in both the 5K and 6K courses.
In 2007, Walker is counting on Barin to help close the gap between the top Retriever runners, senior Alex Hyland and sophomore Suzanne Gabriel, and become a solid scoring runner for the Retrievers.
Hyland and Gabriel form a stable lead group for the Retrievers with Hyland finishing as the top Retriever in the first meet of the 2007, the Mount St. Mary’s Dual 5K’s.
“[Alex] is a great runner,” said
Gabriel is no stranger to the top spot either, as she finished as the number one runner in the first two meets of the 2006 season and finished as the number two runner in three meets.
“Suzanne also put in a great summer and she’s right up there with Alex in all the workouts,” said the coach. “We just have to work on her racing a little bit but she should be one of our top girls the whole season.”
“I’m trying to work on getting the five girls to run as a group in practice,” he said. “I’m trying to close the gap between Tawny and Emily [Saltsman] and some of the other girls and really get them together.”
Juniors Emily Saltsman and Allison Mathis return as the most experienced runners after Barin, and
“[Allison and Emily] really work hard,” the first year coach said. “They’ve also had good summers in training and should improve from last year.”
Along with sophomores Mairin Leahy and Sarah Murphy, and freshman Cortney Crouse, the women’s cross country team will be looking for a top five finish in 2007.
“We’re pretty solid through three,”
The 2007 men’s cross country team will be opposite of the women, in that only three athletes will be returning from the 2006 season and five runners will be joining the team as newcomers.
The eight total men is the smallest team in recent cross country history and quite possibly the smallest ever.
But with 2006 All-Conference performer sophomore junior Anthony Kelhower leading the pack, Walker is hoping for a top three finish in the 2007 conference championship.
“Kelhower’s going to be really good,” said
“The freshmen are going to come up huge,” he said. “If they run well, I think we’ll have a really good chance this year. A lot’s depending on them.”
One such newcomer that
“[Paul] should be top five in the conference,” the coach said. “He looks really good, he’s in really good shape, and he has the right attitude. He really cares about the sport and really loves cross country and track and field.”
After the top three, the rest of the scoring squad will be up in the air, according to
The last returnee, junior Josh Okoniewski, will have potential to score for the Retrievers in 2007, but has been plagued by injury in years past.
This year, however, he will have to make an impact because of the small team size and the number of newcomers.
“We’re really counting on [Josh] as one of the upperclassmen,”
The remaining freshman group of Michael Christmas, Chris Bowie, Chris Snyder, and Colin Haser should not be counted out and if the freshmen really come together,
What it all really comes down to, though, like most every sport, is hard work and commitment.
“The thing with cross country is that if you really love it and you’re really willing to commit, you can become a great runner,”