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RUNNERS AT WORK: EOU cross country runners Ian Schroeder (left) and Eric Griffiths (right) are back on the team this year. (The Observer/FILE PHOTO).
RUNNERS AT WORK: EOU cross country runners Ian Schroeder (left) and Eric Griffiths (right) are back on the team this year. (The Observer/FILE PHOTO).

By Raenelle Kwock

Observer Staff Writer

The Eastern Oregon University cross country team is healthy and looking for big things this season.

"Everyone seems pretty healthy now," coach Ben Welch said. "Hope we keep it that way."

Welch said there is good cohesion and the willingness to work together, which lead to better dynamics.

"I'm extremely pleased with the attitude of everyone so far," Welch said.

He said he expects the men to be ranked fairly high, but he will not worry about that too much. The men are ranked third in the latest NAIA preseason poll.

"Nice to have the vote of confidence," he said, laughing.

The women's team has a very strong freshman class and is ranked 15th in the latest preseason NAIA poll.


The women have six promising freshmen this season.

"The freshmen are impressive," Welch said. "They're doing a good job."

Welch said freshmen Rian Finney (Beaverton High School) and Jessica Johnson (Canby) are fast. Recent Wallowa graduate Teah Beglau is also running well, Welch said.

"She's tough," Welch said. "Very, very tough. I've been impressed with what she's doing."

Beglau was hospitalized for two months after an automobile accident right before her junior year at Wallowa.

She suffered a severe head injury and third-degree burns to her left ankle when her car left Highway 82 and rolled and landed on its roof, trapping her inside.

"We need to be careful with her, because she has had serious injuries," Welch said.

Rounding out the freshmen class are Laura Clayton (Big Fork, Mont.), Shannon Edwards (Westside Christian) and Kari Pack (Umatilla).

Three redshirt juniors are back running this season — Katlin Lafferty, Carri Jones and Kelsey Jones.

Welch said they are "fitter and healthier," which translates into a "stronger impact" for the team.

The women's team was unranked last year.

The senior class is made up of Lisa Muilenburg (Portland State), Kelsi Pelzer and Andrea Terry.


Welch expects the team to do well.

"Goal — make it," Welch said. "We have to run well to do it. It's a very tough region," he said.

Senior Tim Riley, All-Cascade Conference selection last year, junior Ian Schroeder and junior Eric Griffiths will redshirt this season.

Welch said he expects 2001 All-Cascade Conference selections junior Brian Crowl and senior Dave Terry, along with junior Pat Egelus to step up.

"Yeah, we're looking to them for quite a bit," he said.

Welch said sophomore Daniel McGourty can run at a high level, because he is a top 10 type of runner.

Junior Alex McGladrey is back after redshirting last year and is stronger.

"He looks much stronger," Welch said. "He ran well his freshman year."

Six freshmen are on the men's team. Freshman Michael Greenman (Riverside, Wash.) has won several state titles, Welch said.

The rest of the incoming class consists of Brody Turner (Powder Valley), Ben Carpenter (Colville, Wash.), Sean Geskell (Capital, Wash.), Jake Petersen (A.J. Diamond, Alaska) and James Stafford (Hill-Deering, N.H.).

Welch said he wants the men's team to stay in the top 10, but he said the team is not as deep as it was last year.

Eastern begins its season Sept. 14 at the New Balance Festival of Champions at Clackamas Community College.

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