Aug. 29, 2006
Orem, UT- Utah Valley State cross country coach Scott Houle expects big things from his team in 2006. The women return its top seven runners from last year while the men return two of its top runners.
"This is our third year and we have coached everybody on the team who is older," Houle said. "They know our style and our demands. We have been able to locate athletes around the country who adjust to our coaching style. We are excited because each year we are getting better. It is nice to have new athletes come in and watch them mix in and gel with the team to help us improve."
Out of the eight Independent schools the Wolverine men were picked to finished third amongst the coaches and the women were picked fourth. According to Houle his team is starting earn more respect each year.
"We have been complimented on some of our results," he said. "We are making good strides. We feel once we can qualify for the NCAA's we'll be extremely competitive and qualify. We can see us making head way in the Mountain Region."
Here is a closer look at this year's men's and women's cross country teams
Only two of the Wolverines top seven runners return for the 2006 season. Senior Joe Bendoski and sophomore Jacob Buhler lead a group of young runners into the upcoming season. Utah Valley would return three runners this year but Houle has opted to redshirt senior Mark Lott. Lott earned two top 10 finishes in 2005.
"In all our meets they have placed in the top of the competition and been right there with other teams top runners," Houle said. "They will help our scoring and our younger athletes see we can run with top names."
Bendoski finished fourth at the BYU Autumn Classic and second at the Montana State Invite. Because of those top finishes he was named Independent Runner of the Week.
Incoming athletes that Houle is going to count on to contribute are freshmen Trevor Baker, Mike Felix, Race Oster and James Monsen.
Another runner Houle is expecting big things from is sophomore Chase Englestead.
"He is in his first year of cross country and he'll be right there with Joe and Jacob," Houle said.
With its top seven runners returning expectations are high on the women's team. Leading the way are seniors Tricia Parmenter, Bekah Poppinga, Kirsten Barney along with sophomores Karinne Bentley and Kim Rowberry. Another name to watch for is Ashley Evans, who redshirted last year.
All six of these runners finished as the top finisher for the Wolverines in different meets.
"On the girls side we have everybody back and we have a good core of freshmen coming in that will really help us," Houle said.
The freshman Houle expects to contribute are Mary Nothum, Tricia Wright, Kim Scott and Monique Torres. All four runners had great success at the national level while in high school.
"They all come from a traditionally strong high school program," Houle said. "It is easier for them to make the transition to being a college runner."
The biggest snag for the Wolverines is the signing of Nothum. She was one of the top distance runners in Missouri and was the 2005 4A runner-up during the cross country season. In the summer she placed sixth at the Nike Outdoor Nationals in the steeplechase.
"This years girls team is improved," Houle said. "They do have maturity. We brought in solid freshmen girls who have competed at the national level. That national experience will help them be solid competitors at the college level."
The Wolverines are going to race against some of the top runners in the nation in 2006. They open the season on Sept 2 at Idaho State. A week later UV runs in the annual BYU Autumn Classic on Sept 9. Two weeks later UV travels to Minnesota where they race in the Roy Griak Meet.
"Idaho State is a shorter race and it allows the kids to push it a lot quicker," Houle said. "BYU is a very competitive race. Running at the Roy Griak is like competing in the Sweet 16 but there are 100 teams to race against. Our goal is to move up in the placing and I think we will, especially on the girls side."
Also on the schedule are meets at Montana State, Utah, SUU and the Independent national meet at IPFW.