Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Health's Key to Staying in Running for Nationals Outstanding Recruiting Class Boosts Chances for Top 10

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Health's Key to Staying in Running for Nationals Outstanding Recruiting Class Boosts Chances for Top 10

Article excerpt

In his seventh season as cross country coach at Lindenwood College, Gary White has put together a solid program. And there may be even brighter days ahead.

"If we can stay healthy and bring a few things together, we have a shot at a top-10 finish at nationals," the coach said. "And with another recruiting class like this one, there's no telling how good we can be. In a couple of years, we may be contending for a national title."

A year ago, the Lindenwood men won the Midwest Regional and went on to finish 24th at nationals. The nucleus of that team returns, but . . .

"Because of the great depth we have on the squad right now, we've decided to redshirt a few runners," the coach said. "And we still should be very, very strong."

The Lions' top returning runners include senior Eric Krone (St. Charles West) and junior Oren Birks (St. Charles). But the strength of Lindenwood's squad is its gifted freshmen.

"This is by far the best recruiting class we've ever had," White said. "Each year, you recruit to replace your top few runners; this year, we've accomplished that. The guys we've brought in are top-level runners and they're pushing everyone on the team to improve. It's a good, competitive situation."

Heading the list of freshmen are Christopher Kenbenei of Kenya and Sean Carlson, a two-time Class 4A state champion from West Plains, Mo. White also recruited Brandon Roberts and Ian Alaimo from West Plains, Class 2A state champion Mike Brumfield from Crystal City, and Class 3A all-stater Matthew Lucas from Moberly.

"We're really excited about the potential of this team," White said. "We're battling a few injuries right now, so we're trying to take it easy. But I'm hopeful that when regionals roll around, we'll be ready to go."

The Lindenwood women, who placed fourth at regionals a year ago, should improve on that finish this season. And their future looks bright, too.

"We return almost everybody from last year and our oldest runners are sophomores," White explained. …

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