Men's cross country team travels to New York this weekend

For the Ball State men's cross country team, Saturday's Iona Meet of Champions will not just be another weekend race -- it will be a new experience.

The meet will be held at Van Cortland Park in the Bronx, New York, which head coach JIm Sprecher and assistant Jim Trautmann said is one of the most famous courses in the country and maybe the world.

"There have been all sorts of big meets on that course," Trautmann said. "They hold the largest high school meet in the nation. I ran on it in high school. Most of our guys have never run on it, so there's kind of mystique about it.

"It's a neat place, and it gives a different exposure. Lots of races are on golf courses, but this one goes into the woods a lot. Also, it starts our interregional competition."

Both coaches also noted that the meet is not only on a prestigious course, but it will be the Cardinals' toughest test yet this season.

"There will be around 25 teams, and several of them are in the Top 25," said Sprecher, who listed Iona, Wake Forest, Dartmouth Navy, Missouri, Vermont and New Hampshire as some of the top schools that will run. "Some aren't in the Top 25, but they're solid teams."

So far in 2002, redshirt freshman Jesse Davis has been the Cardinals' biggest surprise, according to the coaches.

"We redshirted Jesse last year because he wasn't quite ready, but he and (junior) Aaron Hoover have been our most consistent," Trautmann said. "They've been trading some as our top runner."

Sprecher, who said that the team will do some sightseeing in New York City after the race, added that the team needs to run better than it did at the Indiana Intercollegiates last Saturday.

"Our season is about getting that pack closer to the front," he said. "Last week (at Indiana) was a little disappointing, we didn't quite do that. We need to just keep clawing up."

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