Young runners to get first opportunuty at Butler

The Ball State men's cross country team opens its season Saturday at the Butler Invitational in Indianapolis.

But according to coach Jim Sprecher's plan, his whole team will not race until the following weekend at the Miami Invitational. Instead, the meet with Butler will work more as an experience tool for the younger Cardinal runners.

"We'll take a limited squad, primarily our freshmen and those we redshirted last year," Sprecher said. "Next week we'll have everyone in uniform and racing.

"This is a small meet -- it will mostly be just us and Butler -- and it will provide experience for the younger guys. We usually open at a small, low-key meet so they have an opportunity to compete."

Assistant coach Jim Trautmann added that the meet will serve as a transition for the freshmen, who will be running a four-mile race instead of the high school distance of 3.1 miles, or five kilometers. Most other meets will be eight kilometers long, while the conference and regional meets are 10.

"The first race usually doesn't show too much," Trautmann said. "It's more of an adjustment period. This is the freshmen's first meet more than 5 K, and we'll look to see who's ready for college and who's going to step up. It's more necessarily for development than anything else."

The newcomers will join a group of 14 returnees for Sprecher. The Cardinals, who were seventh at the 2001 Mid-American Championships, lost just one runner. Junior Sal Impelliterri is Ball State's top returning finisher, as he placed 92nd at the Great Lakes Regional.


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