Men's Cross Country: Hometown crowd helps spark Panther runners

Monday, September 20 2004

Derrick Johnson II/ Staff Writer

Eastern runners  Strackeljahn (176),  Butler (165) and McNamer (170) round the Panther Trail Friday during the 2004 EIU Panther Open.  The men´s team took second place in the meet behind Southern Illinois University.
Media Credit: Laura Milen
Eastern runners Dan Strackeljahn (176), Brett Butler (165) and Scott McNamer (170) round the Panther Trail Friday during the 2004 EIU Panther Open. The men´s team took second place in the meet behind Southern Illinois University.
This past Friday, the cross country team held the annual EIU Invitational. Though the Eastern men's team came in second, the support of their fans allowed the men to walk away satisfied.

Considering that the Panthers only have one meet this fall season at home, the turn out that supported the runners was exactly what the team's coach hoped it would be.

"I'm really excited for the kids, that they get a chance to perform in front of this crowd," Masanet said. "I was really excited for them, getting to have the chance to hear people cheering their names."

The Eastern men's cross country team finished second overall with a total of 54 points. They were bested only by Southern Illinois- Carbondale who finished with a total of 37 points. Following Eastern was SIU- Edwardsville who came in third with a total of 73 points, and Western Illinois who came in fourth with a total of 102 points.

In fifth place, McKendree College finished with a total of 147 points, followed by Milliken with a total of 158 points and Principia College with a total of 167 points.

First year, SIU Carbondale head coach Matt Sparks was pleased with the performance of his team on Friday.

"I was very happy with the men," Sparks said. "We wanted to see how we stacked up with other states schools and we accomplished that."

SIU Carbondale's top runner, Joe Byrne, finished first overall with a time of 24 minutes and 39 seconds. The EIU Invitational was his first full race of the season, and Byrne says that he was content with his performance and the performance of his team.

"I was very happy with my performance because this was my first 8K (race) of the season," Byrne said. "The team won and I was very happy about that as well."

There were teams who also explained a few of the negatives coming out of the meet. Western Illinois head coach Andy Sherwood expressed his disappointment in his team's performance, which fell below his expectations.

"My expectations were a little higher than the end result," Sherwood said.

Western's top runner Peter Christakos expectations ran as high as his coaches but he was still fairly pleased with the end result.

"I had higher expectations, but I'm not disappointed," Christakos said.

Christakos finished fourteenth with a time of twenty six minutes even.

On the Eastern front, junior Dave Carlson finished second overall and was the top runner for Eastern with a time of 24 minutes and 50 seconds. Following Carlson was sophomore Erik Werden who finished ninth overall and second for Eastern with a time of 25 minutes and 43 seconds.

Junior Dan Strackeljahn finished twelfth overall and third for Eastern with a time of 25:58. That time was a seven second improvement from his Bradley Invitational time even though the Eastern cross country course is a couple of meters longer than the average 8K.