Talented runners return for cross country teams
Expect the 2006 Baker University cross country team to be led by the same group of young runners from last season.
Both teams return their two top runners, which should help the Wildcats in their quest to returning to the top of the conference.
The women's team returns their top runner, Amber Keith. She placed 26th at the Heart of America Athletic Conference meet with a 21:29 time.
Sophomore Zac Towns is expected to lead the men's team. The Baldwin City sophomore battled through a leg injury last fall.
"The best returning runner will be Zac," head cross country coach Rob Mallinder said. "Last year he was plagued by injury all season."
Sophomore Alex Dingman led the Wildcats most of last season. He was Baker's top runner in five of seven races and ran the ninth fastest 10 kilometer in the school's history.
"I was surprised with his freshman consistency," Mallinder said. "He ran a lot faster than most freshmen run out of high school."
The men's team also returns top runner Andrew McGregor. McGregor, a junior from Overland Park, led the Wildcats twice last season, including his 34th place finish in the HAAC championship.
Newcomer Donny Gardner and Scott Cheney will round of the team of five for the men.
"They have the potential to be one of the best teams at Baker," Mallinder said. "We don't have any superstars, but we have HAAC quality athletes. We should be around mid-conference."
The women are still looking for a fifth runner to field a team.
Mallinder believes Keith and Katie James should pace the Wildcats.
"I feel they are going to run low 20s and both will have very good season," Mallinder said.
Baker will begin its 2006 season hosting the Maple Leaf Invitational on Sept. 2 at the Baldwin City Municipal Golf Course.