2009 Cross Country Preview

Sept. 2, 2009

With a new coach and a solid core of veterans, the UAB cross country team is poised to make a strong campaign in 2009. The Blazers will face national competition in its 2009 slate, which opens Friday, at the Belmont Opener.

In his first season at the helm of the UAB cross country team, Blake Boldon has set multiple goals for his team to strive for which include improving upon last year's fourth-place finish at the C-USA Championships and increasing the team's overall depth.

"We are working towards having a spread of less than a minute [between the first and seventh runner] basically to develop that team depth and have everybody run well," Boldon said. "Additionally, one of our goals is to score 75 points or less at the conference meet. The ladies all believe that they can do that and I think it's something we can aim for right now."

In order to achieve those goals, Boldon's encouraging a strong work ethic amongst his squad.

"Currently we are trying to establish a climate in which every runner gives 100 percent on a daily basis," Boldon said. "That's the direction we're heading in and with that type of work environment, the outcomes and results will take care of themselves."

Although the team has not competed yet in 2009, Boldon's impact is already detectable to interim head coach Kurt Thomas.

"The one improvement that I can see in the girls is their enthusiasm on a daily basis because of what coach Boldon has brought in," Thomas said. "Top to bottom the girls are excited to run and get the season started."

2009 Squad
The Green and Gold return all but one runner from last season and Boldon is looking for leadership from every member of his team.

"I'm looking to all 11," Boldon said. "I like to think that they are all standout leaders in a lot of different ways. We have people from all over the world and we have people that specialize in many different events. Everybody brings something special to the table and right now I'm counting on every single one of them to lead."

 

 

Junior Stephanie Gammon had an outstanding season for the Blazers in 2008, recording three top-10 finishes and finishing as the team's top runner in every contest. Gammon has trained hard in the offseason to improve her times in 2009.

"The sky's the limit for Stephanie," Boldon said. "She is training very well and has put in a great block of training over the summer."

Other expected top finishers for UAB are senior Kristina Olsen and sophomore Rhiannon Johns.

"Rhiannon is training very well and I know she had an incredible summer of training, too," Boldon said. "Olsen also has a lot of fire and will be in the mix with them [Gammon and Johns] too. Through three we are very competitive and very strong."

Four additional runners that could impact UAB's success this season are a trio of sophomores, Clara Cid, Colleen Standridge and Kristina Vaughn, and redshirt junior Kendel Hood.

"This group of ladies could really step in and make a big difference for our team," Boldon said. "Their running could take us from an okay team to a great team. "

Rounding out the 2009 lineup for the Blazers is senior Christina Chambers, juniors Bianca Le'Blanc and Lacey Wright and sophomores Lauren Fayen, Katie Jorgensen and Lucy Taylor.

"My expectation is to improve upon everything they did last year," Thomas said. " I would like us to finish higher in conference and in the regions. I could really see this program push for a national berth and that may not happen, but the fact that everyone is coming back healthier as a whole and that Gammon, Johns, Olsen are a year more experienced is just going to build on what they did last year. I can imagine this team being very good and surprising some people."

2009 Schedule
UAB will kick off the 2009 campaign with the Belmont Opener for the eighth-consecutive year.

"It's a 4K run and we are going to go there and compete hard," Boldon said. "It's a great season opener and will be a good way for us to quantify fitness and move forward from there."

On Sept. 12 the Blazers travel to Huntsville to compete in the Earl Jacoby Memorial (5k) and from there they continue on to the Crimson Classic (5k) in Tuscaloosa, Ala. on Sept. 18.

The following weekend, the Blazers will compete in one of their most challenging meets of the season, the Roy Griak Invitational (6k) at Minneapolis, Minn. The meet will contain a loaded field of national competition and will provide the team with an opportunity to gain 6k experience prior to regionals.

"Some of the best teams in the country go to the Griak Invitational," Boldon said. "It will be our chance to see what else is out there [in terms of competition] and see how we stack up. But more importantly, for those girls that have a shot at the national meet on our squad, and maybe even our team, we need 6k experience before we go to regionals."

The Furman Invitational (5k) on Oct. 10 and the Coach O Invitational (6k) at Troy, Ala. on Oct. 17 will provide more opportunities for the Green and Gold to improve their times prior to the C-USA Championships (5k) on Oct. 31. The team will compete in the NCAA regional (6k) on Nov. 14 and hope to gain a national berth either for the team or for individual runners.

"We return everybody with the exception of one from last year, so we should be better this season," Boldon said. "The three meets that we are putting the most focus on are the Griak Invitational, the C-USA Championships and the NCAA Regionals. Our goal is to finish top three in the conference and we have our sights set on the regional meet and trying to move up there."