WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The Purdue men’s and women’s cross country teams open their 2009 season this Friday, hosting the annual Great American Legends race. While the Boilermakers will field a limited roster on both the men’s and women’s sides, they also welcome intrastate opponents Butler University and Taylor University to the Purdue Varsity Cross Country Course.
"We’re excited to get this season underway," said Purdue head coach Jack Warner. "Our men and women have trained hard throughout the offseason and are ready to get out there, compete and reap the benefits of their work."
In the men’s 8K race, the Boilermakers are set for the efforts of returning junior Caden Shields and sophomores Cale Allen, Ladd Mercer and Dominic DeSantis, while sophomore transfer Charles White and rookies Stephen Schulz and Steven Stoot are prepared for their Purdue debut. Shields ran a season-best time of 25:47.6 for 8K last season at the Pre-National Invitational at Indiana State University, but is ready for a huge improvement in 2009.
"Caden (Shields) looks great right now, and is prepared for a solid season," said Warner. "He’s going to set the tone for our men’s team and we’re looking forward to him embracing that challenge."
Allen posted the squad’s top 8K time in 2008, completing the course in 24:34.87 at the Auburn Tiger Invitational, and scored in all five of the Boilermakers’ varsity competitions. Mercer and DeSantis are ready for great improvement in their sophomore campaigns after gaining valuable experience as freshmen.
White looks to come out firing in his first race donning the Old Gold and Black, after a standout freshman season at NCAA Division II school Abilene Christian University. White earned All-America honors at the DII national championships last season, and earned Lone Star Conference Freshman of the Year honors. Schulz and Stoot are anxious for their first collegiate 8K race as Schulz hails from Mentor, Ohio, while Stoot comes to Purdue from Colorado Springs, Colo.
The Purdue women are set to run a 5K on Friday, and will be guided by a steady stream of returners. Senior Kristin Phillips is set to lead the pack after a stalwart junior campaign in which she clocked the fastest 5K by a Boilermaker in seven years.
"Kristin (Phillips) has been a major contributor to our program for the last three years, and we’re excited about her taking it to the next level this season," said Warner. "Her times have dropped considerably since her freshman year and the last obstacle is vaulting herself towards the top of the conference."
She’ll be supported Friday by classmate Sarah Klaczynski, junior Jennifer Hall and sophomores Stephanie Bonk, Katie Conrad and Kara Conflenti. Klaczynski, Hall, Bonk and Conrad have all found the scoring column for the Boilermakers in their tenure and hope to continue the trend this season, while Conflenti is looking to build off a solid 2009 track season and grueling off-season training regimen.
A trio of the women’s newcomers hit the trails for the Old Gold and Black on Friday, headlined by freshman Camille Buscomb. She spent the 2009 track and field season with the Boilermakers and is ready for her cross country debut. Joining her in their first collegiate race are rookies Kelly McCurdy and Erin Czuprynski. McCurdy led Carmel High School to the 2008 Indiana State High School Cross Country team championship, while Czuprynski earned sixth place at last year’s Illinois State Championships.
Friday’s action will kick off with the women’s 5K race scheduled for 6 p.m. and the men’s 8K competition is set to follow at about 6:30 p.m. Results, times and placings can be found after the race at PurdueSports.com.