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Freshmen Add Depth, Talent to Creighton Cross Country Teams

CU XC coach Chas Davis talks to team members before a race (WBR)

It has been a busy off season for Creighton’s cross country coaching staff. Despite losing assistant coach Molly Jergenson (who took a position on the Notre Dame cross country staff), head coach Chas Davis was landed 13 recruits from across the country.

Davis has shown the last few years the ability to recruit runners from the Midwest. Besides Nebraska, he has brought in student-athletes from Colorado (Davis is originally from Centennial), Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, states that are a quick flight or drive away. He spent the 2008-2009 cross country and track seasons at Oregon State assisting with the women’s teams. His time spent out west opened a couple more avenues for potential recruits. Exhibit A is sophomore Steve Raimondi from Portland, OR.

With a recruiting budget considerably less than a sport like men’s basketball, Davis does not have the ability to travel the country searching for runners. One piece of puzzle is finding students who value a quality education.

“They were all students who were already very interested in Creighton,” Davis said.

Technology of the 21st Century has enabled Davis to reach out, initiate, and maintain contact with potential recruits. This year’s freshmen class features runners from Texas, California, and Utah (see list below). Davis went on to explain.

“Once they contacted me through our online questionnaire or email, I remained in close touch with them and coordinated campus visits with most. We’ve had the most success with student-athletes who were already highly interested in Creighton before I contacted them. I spend some time in Iowa, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Illinois and especially Colorado recruiting, but the quarter of the team from the west and Texas put my unlimited phone minutes to use.”

The 2011 women’s team was one of the smallest in recent history. With no seniors and one junior on that team, the six freshmen and sophomores also made them a very young team. Davis brought in six new freshmen to add numbers and depth to this year’s team. In doing so, the team will remain young this season. The freshmen will not only add numbers but Davis sees the additional numbers benefiting the team at meets as well as practice.

“Our point totals last year piled up after our 3rd runner. This wasn’t our 4th or 5th runners fault. They were very young still and training and racing their hearts out. But the added depth should shore up those two spots and beyond, whether with freshmen or returners. With this many women pushing each other, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see some returners make a big jump in performance.”

In a similar situation to the women, the men’s team has just three juniors and seniors compared to 10 freshmen and sophomores (7 freshmen and 3 sophomores). While the upperclassmen have provided leadership to the new runners, the young folks are ready for their chance to compete.

“They know they can have a big impact right away. But they know they won’t do it nearly as well without the guidance of the upperclassmen. I have watched our leadership really develop over the past few years to step up and take more responsibility, which will be even more important while I do not have an assistant. They’re excited to be the future with a lot of promise, while those returners are embracing the challenge for those top seven spots for our trip to the Willamette Invite (Salem, OR), MVC (at Illinois State), and Regionals (at Missouri State).”

The 13 freshmen are preparing for their first race of the season this Saturday (at the Creighton/UNO Invite at Chili Greens). Besides their work in the classroom, Davis explains what they have been doing to adjust to running at the Division I level.

“Lots of ice baths, attempting to strategize their sleep patterns in the freshmen dorms and belief that some dead legs will pay off in the long run. Only two weeks into practice, we probably haven’t witnessed a significant adjustment yet, but they’re embracing the increase in volume and intensity. Anytime you have that many of them going through the same thing, it helps a ton.”

List of Freshmen and Their Home Town:

Men
Michael Boes — Lincoln, NE
Daniel Poston — Sioux City, IA
Michael Holdsworth — Sherrard, IL
Garrett Kenyon — Colorado Springs, CO
Christopher Kokotajlo — San Antonio, TX
Sam Weil — Ogden, UT
Liam Powers — San Francisco, CA

Women
Victoria Banks — Shawnee, KS
Kathryn Kambhu — Iowa City, IA
Emily Mauser — Denver, CO
Anna Weirick — Amarillo, TX
Jessica Diaz — Antelope, CA
Emily Peterson — Huntington Beach, CA

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