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Cross country starts season at home in NIU tournament

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Posted: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 10:19 am

Cross country will have a chance to begin the 2013 season at home as it hosts the NIU Open.

The Huskies opened last season with a victory in Palos Heights, which marked the first time in program history they grabbed an overall meet title.

This season the Huskies have the chance to have their first race of the season on campus Friday at the North 40 course. The meet will also mark another first for the team, as this is the first time the Huskies have opened their schedule in DeKalb. Head coach Gregg Hipp is not yet looking to make many tweaks to how the Huskies have been training thus far.

“This early on in the season we do not alter training,” Hipp said. “We kind of train through early season meets. Yes, we do want to train well, and of course we do want to run hard this week, but for the most part we will keep our training work load the same that we have these last few weeks.”

Hipp and the Huskies named their team captain last week, and junior Jamie Burr received the honor.

“I feel picking Jamie as our team captain was kind of a big step for the program,” Hipp said. “Having some defined leadership for the program has been our big push and challenge over the last couple years. Jamie has come a long way in her two years here now and we are really excited to have somebody ready for that role, and we feel she will fulfill that role just fine.”

Burr feels the Huskies having their first meet of the season at home has quite a few benefits.

“We have never had our first meet at home,” Burr said. “I find it really cool. I love it and I am sure the other girls do to. It will definitely be a plus having everyone out there cheering for you and actually knowing your name when you run by.”

Hipp added the girls won’t have to deal with the struggles of traveling.

“They get to keep a normal routine staying at home,” Hipp stated. “The girls do not have to go through the normal things of being on the road like getting used to the travel or eating out on the road. It should help get rid of some of those typical early season stressors by staying at home to get the year started.”

Hipp has a few runners in mind who he feels may make an impact on the team’s meet, but the meet lineups are not set in stone in the future.

“Juliane Totzke has had a terrific summer,” Hipp said. “She is somebody we know is able to do well. Juliane has really rebounded tremendously well from last season and possibly put herself in position to potentially be our No. 1 runner this season and one of the better girls in the Mid-American Conference.”

Totzke has taken the compliments she received from the coaching staff, and will work hard to perform her best.

“The positive words from coaches are always something that motivates you,” Totzke said. “For me the mental aspect and telling yourself, ‘You can do it,’ pushing yourself to finish is key to being a successful runner. That will and has been one of the biggest things I have learned from the sport. It is something I have shared with our younger runners heading into their first meet.”

Hipp said the upperclassmen have been doing fine, but there are also underclassmen who have made an early impression on the coaching staff.

“Meghan Heuer, Burr and Totzke are runners we are really counting on as returners,” Hipp said. “Also, sophomore [Ali] Olson has been looking really good as well, so I feel any given day our meet lineups could be different.”

The Huskies are hoping for a nice turnout Friday, and a repeat season opening win is on their mind.

“If we can win this meet it will be the second year in a row that we have opened up the season with a win,” Hipp said. “I feel we have taken some big steps to possibly do that again if we open up the season with an overall win for a second time that would be a really big step to show that we are consistently in that position to compete at that level.

“We are looking forward to maybe seeing other NIU athletic teams out to support our ladies and many students and people from the community to come out as well.”

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