Cross-Country building upon recent accomplishments

With the recent successes of the Northern Kentucky University cross country teams, coach Steve Kruse looks for greater triumph in 2008.

“This could be the strongest team we have ever had,” Kruse said

Jenna Siemer, All-Conference in the Great Lakes Valley Conference, returned to the team. Kruse has high regards for the junior.

“She did very well in the 2007 regional meet,” Kruse said. “She is also an academic All-American.”

Joining Siemer at the front of the pack will be junior Alisha Hansman.

“I expect her to be right with her (Siemer),” Kruse said. “She was on track last year, but injuries held her back. So she should have a pretty good season this year.”

Newcomers for the women’s team this year are Tara Cole from Bethel, Ky., Andrea Rose from Campbell County High School and Jerrica Maddox from Scott High School in Covington, Ky.

On the men’s side, senior and team captain Zach Koehler will lead the men on the trails.

“Not only is Zach the team captain, but he was just the storybook last year for us,” Kruse said.

Koehler was All-Conference in the GLVC and fell just one second short of making All-Region. He was also an All-American Academic.

“The list just goes on for Zach,” Kruse said. “He is a hard worker not only with running and athletics, but works very hard in school.”

Senior Matthew Shoulta will join Koehler at the front of the pack for the Norse. Joining him, sophomores Ryne Smith and Drew Harris show promise to unlock the success of the men’s team in 2007.

“We have our top four (runners) returning, not to mention one of our best freshman classes coming,” Koehler said about his teammates.

With the first meet being the home meet for the Norse, coach feels optimistic about the season starting.

“It is a very quality event and it is our opener and we are looking to do very well there,” Kruse said. “It will set the tone.

The Queen City Invitational, created in 1981 by Bill Schnier, then the Cross-Country coach at the University of Cincinnati, carries a special meaning for Kruse.

“I was on his team as an athlete when Schnier created the event,” Kruse said. “So it has come full-circle for me and it is a nice event.”

With the success the team has seen in the past, Kruse is looking forward to this season and said he thinks this group of runners can do a lot.

“This year with a lot of our players back and last year’s senior, I thought it would be tough,” Kruse said. “But what our seniors have done is a phenomenal job communicating with the team and setting the tone early saying, ‘This is how it’s going to be’.”

The Norse are opening the 2008 Cross-Country season Sept. 6 at the A.J. Jolly Golf Course in Alexandria. The first race is set for 10 a.m.

Click Here for the Cross-Country page for more information.