Coach optimistic about cross country season


By Chip Olsen

A veteran team plus five new recruits keep UNO cross country coach Tim Hendricks optimistic about this season.

That optimism stems from last year’s sixth-place showing in the North Central Conference Championships in South Dakota and an eighth-place finish at the NCAA II Regionals, held in Omaha.

“I hate to be a skeptic,” Hendricks said, “but I think we’re going to be tough.”

With a roster of 12 girls, four of whom are seniors, the lady Mav team is posed to make a run at its conference.

Hendricks, who is going into his 17th year as head coach, said Michelle Ellingson is the girl everyone is “gunning for” this season.

Ellingson is fifth on UNO’s all-time 5,000 meter record with a time of 18 minutes and 16 seconds. She was named the NCC Athlete of the Week for her second-place performance at the Briar Cliff Invitational as well as All-NCC Academic last season.

Hendricks said Ellingson will break the 18-minute barrier this season, which would move her to first place on UNO’s 5,000 meter record list.

He added that the squad is “deep in experience and youth” this year.

Senior Bridget Stephenson, UNO’s top runner at last year’s regional meet, is another girl who could have a breakthrough season,

Hendricks said.

Sophomore Melissa Hines also brings experience — and a second-place finish at last season’s regional meet — to the team. However, a knee injury will slow her down until the middle part of the season, Hendricks said.

Freshmen Kelli Ryan and Sarah Zeisler have the potential to have big seasons, too. Ryan was one of the top recruits in the state and

Zeisler is a six-time state champion out of Butte.

This year’s team is rounded out by seniors Darcy Preston and Sara Stricker, junior DeAnna Bailey, sophomore Molly Miller and freshmen Allison Gormon, Jennifer Victor and Sarah Kent, the latter of whom is a redshirt this year.

Hendricks said: “We’re excited to get going and I think we’re going to have a good year if we stay healthy.”

The season begins at 10 a.m. Sept. 7 at the UNO Invitational at Chalco Hills.


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