|Freshmen women kick-start Redbird cross-country|
|Written by Ashley Schrader, Daily Vidette Sports Editor|
|Tuesday, 28 September 2010 19:27|
In a sport where a large majority of freshmen redshirt, it is a rarity that one can break the top-five, let alone make the varsity squad.
But for the ISU women’s cross-country team, six freshmen all have the capabilities to make contributions to the experienced, veteran varsity team and help the Redbirds toward the end of the season.
“We definitely need to keep with our freshmen, and develop them and get their confidence up, and have them make more of a contribution,” ISU head coach Jeff Bovee said.
He added, “I think that will be a key to our successes.”
Freshmen Kristen Zillmer, Ruth Allen, Annette White, Shannon Nemetz, Megan Fry and Kim Christensen, although new to the Redbird team, have helped to create a large list of expectations for the 2010 season.
“At our first team meeting, I remember them telling us how good we were going to be this year because of us freshmen, and I was surprised,” Zillmer said.
“I didn’t know we were so special. It was nice to hear that we were going to be better than most of the other freshmen at other schools so we have set our goals pretty high because of that,” she added.
Zillmer, a Park Ridge native and a top-ISU recruit, has been a consistent top-runner for the Redbirds, which comes as somewhat of a surprise to the freshman, who is more of a middle distance runner.
“Coming in, I didn’t even expect to be on varsity this year; I was told I could do it but it would be hard, and to be honest I thought all the other freshmen would be better than me, so I’m kind of in shock that I’m doing that well and I’m excited,” Zillmer said.
“I hope to keep improving. I really want to be top-five consistently this season and score some points for the Redbirds,” she added.
Zillmer was the fourth Redbird to cross the finish at the most recent Illinois Intercollegiate Championships meet Sept. 17.
Her time of 18:36 in the 5K course was good for 15th place and helped the team to a second-place title.
Allen, who nabbed 13th-place at the Illinois High School Association cross-country championships her senior year, has made the adjustment to collegiate running and is one of many freshmen that holds a great amount of potential.
The Palatine native is accustomed to success in cross-country and her 19:16 finish at the ISU home meet reflects it. Allen took the eighth spot on the Redbird team, which is just one spot outside of scoring for varsity.
“We really need to work on closing the gap [between our top runners and the other runners],” Bovee said. “It just takes some time and experience.”
White is the third-top freshman for ISU, and closely follows Allen in contention for a varsity slot.
White, from Arlington Heights, crossed the tape in 19:19 at the Intercollegiate Championships nearly two weeks ago to finish ninth for the ‘Birds.
Nemetz, from Denmark, Ill., was the fourth freshman runner for ISU, but, like the others, has the potential to move up the ladder. Nemetz nabbed the 10th top-spot for the ‘Birds at their home meet and ran the 5K race in 19:32.
Christensen finished the ISU home meet in 19:42.
As a high school runner at Carl Sandburg High School, Christensen earned all-state, all-regional and all-conference honors her senior year, notably running to third-place at the IHSA cross-country championships.
Fry, who hails from one of the most successful high school cross-country teams in the state, takes her experience from York High School and translates it to her abilities as a Redbird. Fry ran the Intercollegiate Championship meet in 19:46 and was the fifth freshman for ISU.
With several of Illinois’ top-freshmen recruits adorning the Redbird team, the future holds a great amount of possibilities.
And with four talented seniors leading ISU, many of the younger runners will have opportunities to step-up and help the ‘Birds to the future goals and expectations in seasons to come.
“We are really excited about our freshmen class,” senior co-captain Kirsten Lang said. “They have been doing really well in practices and we are hoping they will help us this season.”
A couple of the six freshmen will group with the rest of the Redbird women’s team to head to the Greater Louisville Classic in Louisville, Ky., Oct. 2.
The race, where numerous top-seeded teams are expected to compete, including Southern Illinois and Vanderbilt, is set to begin at 8:30 a.m.