Clarksville, Ark.-The U of O men?s and women?s cross country teams will rely on a large group of experienced runners for the 2013 season.
The men’s team will be led by three-time All-Conference performer Matt Friant. Friant, a senior from Conway, was the American Southwest Conference Freshman of the Year in 2010 and owns the ninth-fastest 8K time in program history with a 26:40. Friant will be joined by fellow seniors Calvin Jones, Max Hilgendorf and Trent Ueunten. Ozark native Robert Elder returns for his junior season. Freshman Ryan Holt is expected to have an immediate impact on the team.
“I am impressed with the role my upperclassmen have taken,” said head coach Brian Hull. “They have taken the initiative in working with the new runners. Matt has had a lot of competition from his teammates in the past and is a proven All-Conference runner. He is a good example to the younger runners and has shown them what it takes to be successful. Ryan will be solid for us. He will have an impact on the team, too.”
Senior Kara Willbanks leads the women’s team after posting one individual title last season. Hull will rely on a number of other experienced runners - including Sara Sisemore, Cindy Henriquez and Shelby Baker- to continue to build the program.
“We have a solid group of girls,” said Hull. “We could have a potential pack running mentality. I think Kara has come back in good shape and she has taken on a leadership role. She has developed into a good runner. We also have newcomers that have the potential to develop into solid collegiate runners.”
U of O will host two races this season, including the Ozarks Invitational September 28. The Arkansas D-III Championships will be hosted by U of O October 23. The Eagles and Lady Eagles open the 2013 season at the Arkansas Tech Invitational September 14.