With a new season just around the corner, potential for the Illinois State University Redbirds follows. The ’Birds return a solid core of athletes on both sides, but bring in new talent as well.
Senior standout Ryan Rutherford is the main prospect returning for the men’s side. He has been the top finisher for the Redbirds the past two seasons, and a standout at both the conference and regional level. Rutherford was runner-up at MVC’s last season and currently holds ISU’s 8K record with a time of 23:50.13. Other seasoned runners returning to the lineup include senior captain Sean Senf, sophomore Jeff Bajema, junior Dave Eckhart, and 2013 All-Conference honorable mention junior, Tyler Morse.
Despite stars Rachael Brewer and Kristen Zilmer graduating, a solid group of both old and young talent remains. Senior Kim Christensen and junior Kelly McShea will lead the Redbirds this season with not only their experience, but their consistency as well. Both women placed in the top 20 at conference the past season, and have been top finishers in years past. Additionally, juniors Haley Goers and Kaley Ummel will contribute depth to the lineup with their strong performances this season.
Seven men and five women join the Redbird roster for the cross country season this fall. Freshmen Sydney Billingsley and Rachel Devereux add some fresh legs to the squad this fall with impressive high school résumés. Devereux was awarded Runner of the Year in 2012 and was chosen to run for Team Illinois in 2013, while Billingsley earned Most Outstanding Track Athlete in 2011 and 2012, and is an eight-time, All-State Honoree.
For the men, freshmen J.D. Lafayette and Connor Ehnle both show potential to perform. Lafayette was the 2013 Bloomington-Normal Intercity cross country champion, while Ehnle is a four-time, All-State honoree.
For both teams, the season starts Sept. 5 in Madison, Wis.