Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Everything's New-And So Far, So Good

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Everything's New-And So Far, So Good

Article excerpt

The one word to describe the Lindenwood College men's cross country team this season is "new."

The Lions, who finished 24th nationally in 1995 and 23rd last year, have a new coach, Dave Spetnagel; a new league, the Heart of America Athletic Conference; and a bunch of new runners.

"But we're doing real well," said Spetnagel, who replaces Gary White, who's now the cross country and track and field coach at McKendree (Ill.) College. "For a variety of reasons, most of the top runners from last year's team decided not to come back. But the ones who stayed have turned out to be outstanding leaders, and the new guys in the program have really adapted quickly. "Judging from our first two meets, I'd say this team is ahead of where Lindenwood was a year ago." The Lions, who kicked off the season at Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Sept. 7, ran Saturday in the Midwest Collegiate Invitational at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside in Kenosha. Running on the same course used for the NAIA nationals in November, the Lions placed ninth in a 25-team meet that included some NCAA Division I teams. "Last year, Lindenwood finished 13th at this meet," Spetnagel pointed out. "We're a young team with a lot to learn, but we definitely held our own. This meet was a real confidence-builder for us." And for the new coach. A first-year college coach, Spetnagel has worked the past couple of seasons with the cross country and track programs at St. Charles West High, where he coached state champion Tom Breckenridge, who's running No. 2 at the University of Indiana. Spetnagel and his wife, Debby, own Fleet Feet, a specialty running store in St. Peters. "I plan to continue as distance track coach at St. Charles West, but I'm also very excited about coaching at Lindenwood," said Spetnagel, who ran collegiately at the University of Michigan. "There are definitely some adjustments to be made, going from coaching at the high school level to coaching at the college level, but I think we're right on schedule. We're a young team, but we're also a team with some talent. I think this is a team that can do well this year and that can continue to do well in the next few years. …

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