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August 11, 2010

2010 Season - Solid nucleus key to 2010 success

Sophomore Tara Bistry was voted the Vikings' Most Valuable Freshman in 2009. She is one of five runners returning for the 2010 team who spent most of the year in the top seven.

When assessing his team’s fortunes for 2010, Augustana women’s cross country coach Fred Whiteside points to a veteran group of runners as the key to success. A program that has captured six College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin titles under his tutelage has had sixth and fifth place finishes in the league each of the last two years. Whiteside thinks his team this year can once again challenge the top tier teams in the CCIW.

“There is no question that we have taken our lumps a bit the last two years,” said Whiteside, who will be in his 25th season as the head coach. “This year I think we have the personnel to get back into the mix a little bit. All of our returning runners are set to have their best years ever.”

Senior Hannah Hottle (Monmouth-Roseville HS, Monmouth, Ill.) was the Vikings’ MVP a year ago and during the spring track & field season she set an individual school record in the 3000 steeplechase and ran a leg on a new school record in the 3200 relay. She also qualified for the NCAA Division III national meet in the 800. Fellow senior Meaghan Reaney (Lincoln Way Central HS, New Lenox, Ill.) is a three time letter winner who has battled through some injuries and was a top seven performer at the end of the 2009 season.

Three sophomores are coming off tremendous freshman campaigns and will help provide quality depth at the top of the lineup. Tara Bistry (Joliet Catholic HS, Shorewood, Ill.) was the Most Valuable Freshman last year and was a consistent top-five runner. She had the team’s best finish in the Brissman-Lundeen Invitational with a 23rd place finish. Theresa Coverick (Stagg HS, Palos Park, Ill.) split time last year between the Augustana women’s soccer and cross country teams and this year will concentrate solely on running. She was the top finisher in three of the last four meets and took second in the St. Ambrose Invitational and the Luther JV Cup. She was also the team’s top finisher in the CCIW when she took 15th. Annie Heifner (Oregon HS, Oregon, Wis.) was another consistent top seven runner from a year ago and she was Augustana’s third finisher in the CCIW when she took 27th.

Those five runners are all on the Vikings’ top 10 list for freshmen over the 6,000 meter distance. They should give Whiteside a solid group to work with.

Seniors Anita Maurer (Downers Grove North HS, Downers Grove, Ill.) and Brittany Prazak (Naperville North HS, Naperville, Ill.), juniors Angela Pisani (York HS, Elmhurst, Ill.) and Sarah Johnson (Grayslake North HS, Lake Villa, Ill.) and sophomore Sarahbeth Jones (Warren Township HS, Wadsworth, Ill.) have all shown promise in the past. Prazak is a co-captain this year along with Hottle. Johnson was the Most Valuable Freshman in 2008 and Jones ranks in the top 10 of the school’s all-time list in the 800 both indoors and outdoors.

Seniors Katie Ries (Iowa City Regina HS, Iowa City, Iowa) and Kristin Sattizahn (Erie HS, Erie, Ill.) are contenders for top seven spots as well. Sophomores Emily Byars (Geneva HS, Geneva, Ill.), Jennifer Prazak (Naperville North HS, Naperville, Ill.) and Kirstyllyn Pohlman (Zion Benton HS, Winthrop Harbor, Ill.) could be in the hunt also.

Once again the Vikings will run against a very good schedule that will include four home meets. They will host the Augustana Open on September 1 and the Brissman-Lundeen Invitational on September 24 in the regular season. They also will run the CCIW meet and the NCAA Division III Midwest Regional at home. The Augustana home course is at Credit Island in Davenport, Iowa.

Also on the schedule will be invitationals at Western Illinois and Northern Illinois, the Illinois Intercollegiate Championship and the Western Ontario Invitational in London, Ontario.