Cross Country: Panthers have one of deepest teams in conference

Thursday, October 23 2008 - OVC Championships

Butler leads team from front of the pack

By: Brandy Provaznik/Staff Reporter

Posted: 10/23/08

With a rather young team last year, Eastern head coach Geoff Masanet and his top runner, Brad Butler, discussed the possibility of Butler red-shirting the 2007 season.

He would then return during the 2008 season to finish his cross country career.

They decided that the team, which was primarily freshmen, would use the 2007 season to build experience and would come back stronger this season. Butler and Massanet agreed that would be the best approach.

And for the most part it worked, Masanet said.

"There are injuries here and there that you didn't really anticipate, certain people are either better or worse than we expected and we aren't necessarily performing to our total capabilities," Masanet said. "You can't account for everything, but we are a stronger team than we were at this point last year."

The idea behind holding Butler back was that he would still be their consistent number one finisher, but the people finishing in second through eighth place would improve their times and the overall results of the race.

Masanet said Butler serves as sort of the carrot in front of the donkey, leading the other guys along.

"Having him back this year obviously helps out a ton," Masanet said. "He's just someone up front that scores very few points and helps set the tone for the rest of the guys."

Junior Aaron Iaun said he thinks right now the Panthers have more talent to work with than other schools in the conference.

"Sure, Eastern Kentucky is better than us up front," Iaun said. "They have some guys we can't even compete with, but I think overall we are the deepest team in the conference."

That depth is what Masanet said he hopes will help the Panthers finish high in the Ohio Valley Conference Championships.

Those packs of guys, working together and finishing closer to the top is better than one guy going out and finishing in first place and the rest of his team is still way far behind, Masanet said.

Butler said the depth Eastern has is a big help in everyday workouts for the Panthers.

"Having that many talented, quality guys just helps us each day in practice," Butler said. "We have bigger, stronger packs that are able to push each other to get better."

Because of all that depth and talent, Masanet said it has become somewhat uncertain who will be racing in the conference meet on Nov. 1.

"That's a sort of a good problem to have," Iaun said. "We have a lot of good, competitive guys that we can use interchangeably. We are just going to have to pick the ones that we think will help us the most when the time comes."

Brandy Provanzik can be reached at 581-7944 or at
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