LOUISVILLE, Kentucky. — With a horde of freshmen taking up much of the roster last season, it was hard to know what to expect from Bellarmine University’s men’s cross country team.
That aspirations will be high in 2022 and beyond is testament to what happened in the 2021 campaign.
After being predicted to finish 10th in ASUN’s preseason coaches’ poll, the Knights took sixth place out of 12 teams in the conference encounter, a clear indication of the promise the youth movement suffered. by the team.
“I think last year went pretty well,” the coach said. Chase Broughton said. “We were a very young team, and it’s always hard to predict how the freshmen will get through the 8k compared to the 5k distance they’re used to running in high school. But the guys got on with it. given a chance and got a solid result at the ASUN Championships.”
Bellarmine’s returns have swallowed up a lot of real estate in the program’s record books. Six Knights posted the 18 best times in the all-time 8k performance list, which measures PR. Eight of the all-time top 35 finishes in the 8k are occupied by Bellarmine comebacks.
“I think we’ll definitely be more of a known commodity this season,” Broughton said. “That being said, I still don’t think there is more pressure on us at the start of the season. Don’t get me wrong: we have high expectations for ourselves, but we have nothing to lose this year so we don’t have any pressure on us heading into the cross country season all we have to do is go out there and be the best versions of ourselves at every race and good things happen will produce.
Second year Chasing Atkins earned ASUN All-Freshman Team accolades last season while placing a 28th-best team in the ASUN Championship. He ranks fourth on the program’s 8k performance list and holds the eighth and 18th best 8k times in program history. Second year Nolan Hester placed second on the team and 43rd overall in the ASUN Championship. A two-time ASUN Freshman of the Week in track and field, he ranks 17th on the performance list and posted the 34th best time in the program in the 8k. Second year Wil Stamm broke the freshman 8k program record and ranks third on the performance list while holding the seventh fastest 8k time.
“Chase was part of the All-ASUN freshman team last fall and can’t wait to prove it wasn’t a fluke. He’s a player and he’ll have an impact for us in October,” Broughton said. “Nolan had one of the best freshman years of anyone in Bellarmine history. If his track season translates to grass, expect him to take a big leap from the grass. last fall. Wil broke the freshman record last year and built on that with a great outdoor season. He will be counted on as a big part of this team.”
Junior Nick Lewis, a member of the 2020 ASUN All-Freshman team, finished third among the Knights and 45th overall in the conference encounter. He ranks ninth on the 8k performance list and is tied for the 23rd fastest time. Graduate student Nate Smith ensures Bellarmine’s top 4 finishers at the ASUN meet are all back, and he’s 14th on the 8k performance list while recording the 31st fastest time. Second year DK Schnieders is the current sixth knight with a buffer on the 8k performance list, ranking 18th. He also achieved the 35th fastest time.
“Nick has gotten better every year. His experience will be a big help for the younger players on our team,” Broughton said. “Nate also brings a lot of experience to our team. He had a very solid season last fall, and if he can improve a bit this year, it will make a big difference in how our team performs in October. DK was another who had a very strong freshman season and will be counted on to make another leap this year.
Second year transfer Paul Stamm, Wil’s twin brother, could be a big contributor after posting the ninth-fastest time in program history at Xavier last season. Graduate student Tristan Backer is back, just like senior Alex Wallingford and juniors John Casson and Josh Smalley.
“Paul had a great first year last year at Xavier. He will fit in very well with our youngsters and provide an immediate spark for our team,” Broughton said. “Tristan helps provide veteran leadership to our team and is back for his fifth year. Alex is another vet who can help youngsters in a big way. John is a deep piece. If he can understand the distance of 8k this fall like he did the 1500 last outdoor season, he has the potential to be a big impact for us Josh is another veteran who can help bring depth to our team.
As mentioned earlier, last season’s roster had a huge freshman class, which translates to a huge sophomore field this go-around. Additional sophomores include Ryan Burchet, Pierre Dalmares, Jackson Gawarecki, Griffin Hunter, Josh Meiman, Austin Pulkowski, Joshua Striegel and Matthew Wantland.
“Ryan had a surprise freshman last year and is never afraid to put himself in the mix and brings us a ton of big race experience,” Broughton said. “Peter had a strong freshman year last year and should make a good jump this year to help give us even more depth. Jackson had a breakout outdoor season last spring, and if that translates to fall he might be a sleeper for us Hunter had a great summer and is gearing up for a second year in small groups.
“Josh is a very experienced rider who shows up in the big races. Austin is an extremely talented rider for us who can have a big impact on our team if he finds consistency. Joshua wore a red shirt last fall , but he’s eager to get out and compete on the grass, having a lot of big racing experience since high school Matthew took a big leap last spring and I expect that momentum to continue , which further deepens our alignment.
Drew Belardo, alex hooten and Nolan White joined the Knights in first year.
“Drew had a great high school career in Missouri and brings a wealth of experience in high-level racing,” Broughton said. “Alex had an outstanding career at Evansville Central and could have an immediate impact for us as a rookie. Nolan had a great high school career at Northview and also has the potential to have an immediate impact on our team.”
Bellarmine was expected to finish seventh out of 14 teams in this season’s ASUN Coaches Poll. The Knights open the season Friday at the Mike Baumer XC Classic in Fairborn, Ohio.
“I think the team is in a good position,” Broughton said. “There are always things that could be better placed, but we have plenty of time until the conference championship to set ourselves up for success on October 29. Our guys are a competitive bunch, and they’re all very keen on getting better. improve themselves and each other to continue to elevate our program.
“ASUN is one of the best mid/low major conferences in the country. Last year there was a clear gap between the top four teams in the league and everyone else. Our goal this year is to continue to close the gap with the best teams in ASUN and start entering the conversation of being competitive with the best in the conference.”
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