October 30, 2009

Bulldogs Begin Stretch Run At Horizon League Championship

Butler will begin the final and most important segment of its cross country campaign at the 2009 Horizon League Cross Country Championship on Saturday, Oct. 31.  The league meet will held at Kensington Metropark in Milford, Mich., beginning with the men’s championship race at 11 a.m.  The women’s championship will follow at noon.

Butler’s men will look to continue the most dominant stretch in Horizon League cross country history.  The Bulldogs have won 11 consecutive league titles and have captured the last two with perfect scores.  Butler has had the individual men’s champion in the last 12 conference meets.

“We’ll have our entire men’s team running for the first time this season,” said Butler head coach Matt Roe, a two-time Horizon League Cross Country Coach of the Year.  “This race begins the second part of our season, the championship phase.  The regional is next, and then hopefully we can get another shot at the national meet.”

Senior Andy Baker will be bidding to become just the third runner in Horizon League history to win three league individual titles.  Eddie Slowikowski of Loyola captured titles in 1986, 1987 and 1989, while Mike McWilliams of Notre Dame placed first in 1991, 1992 and 1993, though he shared the crown with teammate John Coyle in 1992.  No previous runner has won the title outright in three consecutive years.  Baker captured his second consecutive title last year with a winning time of 24:54.1.

Roe also can call on four other runners who finished among the “Top 5” individuals in last year’s meet - Rob Mullett (2nd), Tom Boardman (3rd), Kris Gauson (4th) and Justin Roeder (5th).  Senior Joe Macdonald and junior Madison Roeder round out Butler’s “Top Seven.”  Madison Roeder placed 11th at last year’s championship, while senior Steve Lisgo came in 12th.

The Butler women will be seeking to rebound from a third place finish at last year’s meet.  That finish ended a streak of six consecutive crowns and ten titles in 12 years for the Bulldogs.  Butler has produced the individual champ in four of the last six league meets.

“We’re in a much stronger position than a year ago,” said Roe of his women’s team.  “This year’s team is young and hungry.  We’re stronger and deeper than we were last year, but five of our top seven runners are freshmen and six of our top seven runners will be competing in their first conference meet.”

The lone returnee from last year’s “Top Seven” is senior Sara Bird, who placed 21st.  She’ll be joined by junior Rosie Edwards, competing in her first season with the Bulldogs, and freshmen Katie Clark, Lauren McKillop, Kirsty Legg, Shelbi Burnett and Karleen Ritchie.  Clark has been Butler’s top runner in each meet this fall.

Butler is the Horizon League’s all-time leader in cross country championships with 11 men’s titles and 10 women’s crowns.