Kentucky Cross Country Opens Season Friday

Sept. 1, 2011

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The University of Kentucky cross country team opens the 2011 season, its 28th under the direction of head coach Don Weber, on Friday at the Belmont-VU Opener held on Vaughn’s Creek Course at Percy Warner Park in Nashville, Tenn.

The women will hit the course first with a 4K race at 6:30 p.m. ET, followed by the men’s 5K race at 7:00 p.m. Teams expected to compete in the season opener include Belmont, Austin Peay, Brescia, Kennesaw State, Lipscomb, Tennessee, Tennessee Martin, Middle Tennessee and Vanderbilt.

“It’s a good opportunity for some of the younger people to get some experience racing in a collegiate meet and for the returners to get one under their belt,” assistant coach Thomas Morgan said. “We don’t have huge expectations for this first meet. We just want people to go in and be competitive and use it as a chance to get some experience. We’re not especially concerned with the end result.”

With school starting less than two weeks ago, the Wildcats haven’t gotten too much time to train and be together. The Belmont-VU Opener will be a good opportunity for both the coaches and student-athletes to see where they are.

The Wildcats will compete in four meets during the regular season, including the Belmont-VU Opener. Following Friday’s meet, Kentucky will compete in the Tennessee Invitational in Knoxville, Tenn. The Wildcats will then head to Louisville, Ky., for the Greater Louisville Invitational on Oct. 1 before closing out the regular season at the Panorama Farms Invitational in Charlottesville, Va., on Oct. 14. The Southeastern Conference Championship meet will be in Knoxville, Tenn., this year on Oct. 31.

The women’s team, which is ranked as the preseason No. 11 team in the Southeast region by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, will be led by juniors Chelsea Oswald and Cally Macumber. Oswald battled injuries during the 2010 season, but led Kentucky in two of the three races she competed in, running a personal best time of 17:26 at the San Francisco Invitational and finishing in second place overall. Macumber, a native of Rochester Hills, Mich., led Kentucky at the SEC Championship in 2010 and had the 13th fastest time at the meet overall. Macumber had three top-15 overall finishes for the year.

“Chelsea’s back healthy and training again and we’re really excited to see her pick up where she left off last season,” Morgan said. “She’s doing well and she’s very fit so we’ll look for her to make a big impact at the conference level this year. Cally’s been dealing with a nagging injury but she’s getting that taken care of. And then Taylor Wendler, Allison Peare and Anna Bostrom were all freshmen last year. This year they can really make a positive impact for us and they’ve had good summers. Our lone senior is Megan Broderick. This is her first year running and she’s done well in training and has definitely shown she can compete at a high level but this will be her first race.”

The men’s side will be led by junior Luis Orta and senior Josh Nadzam. Orta has been a staple for the cross country team and 2010 was no different as the Caracas, Venezuela native led the Wildcats in five of their six races. Orta won the San Francisco Invitational to open the year and earned a second- and fifth-place finish at the Blue Ridge Open and Iona College Meet of Champions, respectively.

Nadzam raced in all six of Kentucky’s races last year, finishing in second place on the team in each of the final three races. One of four seniors on the men’s side, Nadzam earned top-20 overall times at the San Francisco Invitational and the Blue Ridge Open.

The men’s side is more than just Orta and Nadzam though, as the Wildcats return a slew of runners from one year ago and should have a balanced group in 2011.

“Mackay Wilson is a freshman who’s been doing well in practice and is a guy we think can have a big impact on the team this year,” Morgan said. “We have a few sophomores in Matt Hillenbrand, Stacey Eden and Adam Kahleifeh who should all look to make a pretty big impact for us this year also. And then there’s Luis Orta and Josh Nadzam, a pair of upperclassmen who have great experience and can lead us. We’re pretty deep on the men’s side and that’s a good thing.”

For complete results of the Belmont-VU Opener and for all UK cross country news, go to UKathletics.com.